Austin's understaffed police tell citizens to collect evidence at crime scenes themselves

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A business owner in Austin, Texas says police told him to gather his own evidence at the scene of his burglarized store, saying it was due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Kirk Andrews, owner of Petticoat Fair Lingerie in north Austin, told KVUE News that he called authorities after his shop had been robbed that he should put on gloves and search for bullet casings because police would not be able to assist due to the coronavirus.

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“They got back on the phone with me and said that nobody would be coming out and said it was due to COVID restrictions, which didn’t make any sense to me,” Andrews said. 

Andrews said 911 told him to call 311 where he was told to put on gloves and search for bullet casings and other evidence to give to police.

“That to me is extremely frustrating,” said Andrews. 

Andrews says that on Saturday morning his surveillance video showed a white car driving up to his store before a passenger shot out the window and grabbed clothing. The incident happened around 6 AM when no one was in the store.

Andrews added that his store has been burglarized multiple times and in the past he has been told by police that they “don’t have the manpower” to track down what they described as “shoplifters”

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In the past, Andrews said that police have taken two weeks to call him back and file a report after his store was robbed.

Austin Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Fox News.

Austin police stopped sending sworn officers to certain calls where no immediate danger is involved on October 1 in order to allow uniformed officers to focus on serious calls and emergencies.

The city is currently plagued by a police shortage that Austin Police Chief Joseph Chacon has referred to as a “crisis.”

The staffing shortage was caused, in part, by the city’s move to strip funding from the police department and has coincided with a surge in crime that includes the murder rate rising over 90%.

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In November, Austin residents will vote on Prop A which aims to restore police staffing and some units that were lost in the 2020 defunding. 

“We are in the midst of the most profound police staffing crisis in Austin history,” Save Austin Now co-founders Matt Mackowiak and Cleo Petricek said in a statement to Fox News. “This is occurring during a historic violent crime wave here, as homicides are up 80% since last year’s modern-day record. Austin police morale is at an all-time low. We are roughly 300 police officers down in one year due to the $150 million police budget cut last year. ADP recently made the stunning announcement that due to the staffing crisis they can no longer respond to 911 calls unless it’s a life-threatening situation or the assailant is on the premises. Rank and file officers are being asked to put their lives on the line without the support they need to do the job. On Nov. 2nd, Austin must pass Prop A to fix this mess.”

The advocacy group founded by liberal billionaire financier George Soros has dumped $500,000 into a campaign to defeat the proposal.

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