By LYNETTE HAALAND, Four Points News
Steiner Ranch homeowner Rachel McGilvray caught on video two young men who were rifling through their vehicles looking for things to steal. Although they left her property empty handed, the two are suspected in a rash of burglaries and stolen vehicles that happened on August 13 just after 5 a.m.
McGilvray was helpful in the situation by posting on social media what her security camera caught. She credits Travis County Sheriff’s Office for its timely response and advice in helping recover stolen items and a stolen vehicle.
Travis County Sheriff’s Office was on the scene within minutes and praised McGilvray for her quick actions.
“Yes! We got one of the stolen vehicles back and it’s because of neighbors like you. Thank you for posting that so quickly! Neighbors sticking together is the best way to combat crime these days,” shared Lisa Lucas, TCSO deputy.
Trying to aid in the investigation, the Steiner Ranch Master Homeowners Association shared this message with residents last week: “There was another wave of burglaries early Saturday (8/13) morning, where two vehicles were stolen from one residence on Appaloosa Chase Drive, and several other vehicles were broken into. One of the stolen vehicles was recovered, while the other remains at large. As a reminder, please be sure to lock your vehicles and never store any valuables in the car.
If you have any camera footage of Appaloosa Chase Drive between 5:00 am and 5:30 am on Saturday (8/13), please contact the HOA office at 512-266-7553 or via email at email@example.com. Should you ever observe any suspicious activity, please call 911 immediately.”
McGilvray shares what happened on August 13 around 5:15 a.m. in her words:
In a nutshell, our neighbor asked us to check our security cameras because he heard that two cars were stolen on our road, Appaloosa Chase Drive. We checked the footage and saw two males trespassing on our property and also checking the car of the neighbor across the street.
They walked up to the driver side doors and checked them, and if they were open, turned on their phone (flashlights) and went through the consoles, glove boxes, and looked under the seats. We were lucky because we never keep anything in the cars since this is the third time we have video footage of criminals on our property in as many years. Even our garage door openers were inside of the house. We thought all of the cars were locked, but two of them were not.
The thieves left their stolen car running in the middle of the street, lights on, engine running, and left our property in less than 90 seconds.
They drove south down the rest of Appaloosa Chase Drive where they found two cars to steal from one resident and who knows what else was taken along the way. If a car was in the drive, I guarantee that they checked it and took anything valuable.
As soon as we saw the video footage, I immediately called the Travis County Sheriff’s Department which forwarded me to APD for the weekend beat. Deputy Lisa Lucas was at our house, gathering the video feed within 15 minutes. She asked us to share the footage anywhere we could on social media to see if anything else turned up.
Ten minutes later, a neighbor was calling in about an abandoned car in front of her house which turned out to be the getaway car caught on our security footage! As soon as I saw the post, I started walking down the road to see if it was the car. As I crossed the road, another sheriff was driving past, and Deputy Lucas was on site, photographing the car.
As I walked up, she said “This is it. This is the car from your footage.” She had on gloves and was about to start photographing and bagging the evidence left behind. Her fellow policeman was parking and starting to help while I talked to the neighbors.
I found out on August 18 that the getaway car was indeed stolen earlier that morning. It was ditched next door to the house where the cars were stolen, but facing north not south as I would have expected.
The police found lots of stolen loot inside the car from multiple addresses including credit cards, health insurance cards, golf clubs, masks, and at least one very expensive purse.
One of the stolen cars was found abandoned at Towne Square about an hour or so after that. I immediately notified the HOA management so that they could check their footage and turn in anything of note. At the board meeting on August 16, the manager told me that both stolen cars were seen at the Towne Square Community parking lot where one was abandoned (and recovered), and the thief jumped into the larger SUV and they left together.
Travis County Detective Amber Moore is assigned to this crime scene which probably stretches much further into the neighborhood, and she asks that everyone check their security footage, check for missing wallets, checkbooks, credit cards, keys and phones. These are the objects that the thieves really like to take.
Please turn in any mischief and missing items immediately so that the sheriff can send more patrols to our neighborhood. If you don’t report it, they can’t help find it or help us protect our neighborhood. Moore also recommends that all items with serial numbers be recorded in a ledger so that if they do go missing, you have a better chance of getting them back. Most importantly, don’t leave anything valuable in your vehicles and always check that they are locked. If there is nothing to steal, the gangs usually move to a more prolific area.
I love my neighborhood and want to see this sort of trespassing stopped entirely. Deputy Lucas’ advice did so much! I am impressed with the Travis County Sheriff’s Office and am so glad they are covering our neighborhood. Two of three stolen cars were recovered because of their advice, and now the neighborhood knows to report, report, report when things are wrong.