Austin business owner calls for more police after being denied help while facing shoplifter

An Austin, Texas, convenience store owner said he’s urging voters to pass a pro-police initiative after the city’s police department refused to send officers to help stop a shoplifter trying to attack him in his shop, even though “you can hear him yelling at me while I’m on the phone.”

The Austin Police Department issued a policy on Oct. 1, in part to help alleviate its staffing challenges, that would reroute callers away from 911 if it didn’t consider the incident an emergency. Linh Tu said his shop has been burglarized repeatedly and that the police would only tell him to call 311 to file a complaint.

“We need more police officers,” Tu told Fox News. “We need to change the policy … to get an officer in any kind of crime.”

“I was born and raised here, and what I’ve seen in the last two or three years, it’s horrible,” he continued. “It’s a nightmare.”


The convenience store's smashed windows after recent burglary

The convenience store’s smashed windows after recent burglary

Tu, as a result, supports Proposition A, an initiative on Tuesday’s ballot that aims to require Austin to maintain two police officers per 1,000 residents (it’s currently around 1.6). It would also promote additional yearly training and increase minority hiring.

“The store has been repeatedly burglarized, we get shoplifted,” Tu told Fox News. “When we contact 911, they refuse to send police officers to the scene because no one was harmed.”


“They just … tell us to call 311 and file a case,” he continued. “So right now, it’s like they can do whatever they want in Austin.”

Tu said that in one instance, a shoplifter tried to attack him, but “911 said they couldn’t do anything because he hadn’t hit me yet … But you can hear him yelling at me on the phone.”

He said crime would get worse if Proposition A doesn’t pass.

Linh Tu, The Convenience Store owner, tells Fox News what recent weeks have been like

Linh Tu, The Convenience Store owner, tells Fox News what recent weeks have been like

He also told Fox News that crimes have taken a mental and physical toll on him.

“Every night I can’t sleep,” Tu told Fox News. “I’m watching the camera, trying to see if there are some guys coming back.”

While watching footage from his security cameras, Tu realized one burglar was inside his store for five minutes. He stayed that long because “he knows the cops will not show up,” Tu told Fox News.

A witness left Linh Tu a note

A witness left Linh Tu a note


But Proposition A, introduced by the political action committee Save Austin Now, has been met with resistance. Opponents believe shifting money toward police staffing would undermine other Austin priorities.

Travis County Democratic Party Chair Katie Narjani recently told Fox News that Save Austin Now is trying “to create an unfunded mandate that … would then defund our schools, defund our libraries, defund our parks and EMS and fire.”

Meanwhile, Tu told Fox News that if things continue the way they are, “it’s going to kill the safety of this beautiful city of Austin.”

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