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Crimewatch: Couple renovates property in crime neighborhood

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Revitalization is taking place all around Austin. One couple is part of the movement, renovating in a part of town known for crime.

Henry Traugott picks up trash everyday, even when it's not on his property.

Traugott and his wife are trying to keep the Cameron Villas Apartment Complex and the surrounding area clean. They say they just dropped a million dollars renovating the 27 unit complex.

"We put our heart and soul into it," said Henry Traugott.

Pictures show what it looked like before, a run down complex in desperate need of repairs. The walkways were rotted out and were near collapse. Tenants also had to deal with rusted stairwells and crumbling concrete everywhere.

"It was dangerous," said his wife, Lisa Traugott. "There were beer bottles, there was trash everywhere. The stairwells were rotting. It was not a place I wanted my child and if I don't want my child, my baby walking there, I don't want anybody's baby walking there."

The couple moved from California to Austin in 2008. They were looking for an investment and came across the apartment complex on McKie Drive off Cameron Road in northeast Austin. They knew what they were getting into, that the area isn't prime real estate.

"Even though the area was depressed, we knew the history of it was it used to be very affluent and we also knew it was being revitalized," Lisa Traugott said.

"It's a huge risk. You have to be able to put it on the line everyday and deal with anything that comes along. That's why a lot of people don't do it. It's easier just to sit back and let a building fall down and collect rent and much more profitable," Henry Traugott said.

Now, the wood in the walkways is new. All the concrete was replaced. They even landscaped and planted flowers.

Police say the effort helps to deter crime.

"Anytime you dress up your neighborhood and take pride in your house and take pride in your business, talk to neighbors, form a community liaison, form a neighborhood watch program and basically care about your neighborhood, work with us, we're going to do everything we can do to keep your neighborhood safer that way your kids can walk the streets and you don't have to worry about them," said APD Cpl. Anthony Hipolito.

The Traugott's renovation efforts take place in an area where police say crime is no stranger.

McKie drive is off Cameron road. St. John's Ave. is three streets down.

Police pulled up crime statistics for the past two years for the area encompassed by the area.

"I did pull some numbers that I thought were a lot. Fifty-three burglaries of residence in the last two years in a three to four block area, 93 criminal mischief calls, people breaking windows, people doing damage to people's property," said Hipolito.

Hipolito says there were also 57 auto thefts, 19 prostitution, 28 possession of controlled substance and 16 aggravated robberies.

"I think it's sad, I think it's really sad. I think some people get into real estate just to be slum lords just to collect a pay check," said Lisa Traugott.

The Traugotts say they believe everyone deserves to have a clean and safe place to call home. They plan to buy more complexes and turn those around, providing homes to low income residents, one complex at a time.

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