Crimewatch: Vintage Creek Apartments helps fight crime in northe - | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Crimewatch: Vintage Creek Apartments helps fight crime in northeast Austin

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Tackling drug dealing, prostitution, robberies, and aggravated assaults in Northeast Austin is keep police busy. One of the hot spots for crime is the corner of Manor Road and Rogge Lane.

Austin Senior Police Officer, Michael Cole, patrols the area.

"This area is known for drugs, prostitution, also robberies and assaults. A lot of people hang out here and pretend they're going to catch the bus and in turn they are really selling drugs," said Cole.

Cole works the area police call IDA sector. He points out another problem spot, the Manor Palms Apartments off Manor Road. In fact, he considers this the worst complex in IDA because of the amount of calls he takes for violent and property crimes.

"It's high for both," said Cole.

But crimes can happen in quiet areas too.

Officer Cole says Brunswick Drive isn't near major roads. While neighbors love the peace and quiet, Cole says, criminals do too.

Cole pointed out one home at the end of the street that has been burglarized twice by the same suspect. It sits next to a park, separated by a low fence and a lot of brush. There's still glass on the ground from the second attempted break in. Police say the three suspects used the low fence to get in and out.

"That side window is pretty hidden from the playground and the street, you can't really see who's back here," said Cole.

In the middle of all this criminal activity sits the Trails at Vintage Creek on Northeast Drive.

Officer Cole is here every day, either responding to a call or just stopping by. The complex used to attract drug dealers in its playground area. But after installing lights with cages, drug dealers and users are gone.

That's just one of many things Community Manager, Mandy Adams, has taken to reduce crime.

"We do background checks obviously. We do have several different initiatives here where we try to get residents involved. We have a courtesy nightly patrol. We've also done all of our lighting which has helped tremendously. The dark spots are gone," said Adams.

Adams also recently starting using Krimelabb, a website that takes Austin Police data and makes it consumer friendly.

Adams says she checks it to make sure tenants aren't in trouble with the law. If they are, they have to leave.

"It was actually committed at a local business where they had broken in and stolen some things. Well upon looking at it, I realized it was a tenant at our complex that did that. I wouldn't have been aware of that had I not seen that is a violation of their lease and was able to ask them to move out," said Adams.

Officer Cole says Adams calls police a lot and that's helpful in cutting down on crime.

The complex is also dedicated to helping its residents.

The non-profit group, Foundation Communities, runs the Trails at Vintage Creek. It took over ten years ago. The group turns rough and neglected apartment complexes into livable affordable housing for the low income, no income, victims of domestic and sexual abuse, and refugees.

Refugees like 44-year-old Jeremiah Balingene, who left Congo and brought his family to Austin three years ago because there was too much fighting in his country and he didn't feel safe.

Foundation Communities not only gave them housing but taught them about simple life skills like dental care. Adams also hired him.

"It's like family, for me they work like family, friendly," said Balingene.

Crime still occurs at the Trails at Vintage Creek.

Car break-ins are a problem as well as domestic violence.

But Officer Cole says he wished all apartment managers were as hands-on as Adams, making a difference caring about her tenants and the community.

Foundation Communities has a total of 13 apartment complexes in Austin.

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