Trash, crime, and skipped checks: Years of Jeep Weekend chaos prompt business closures

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Wednesday, May 15, 2024
Past Jeep Weekend chaos prompts business closures, increased patrols
Crystal Beach-area businesses vow to close on "Jeep Weekend" in 2024, citing years of crime and trash from the event's visitors.

CRYSTAL BEACH, Texas (KTRK) -- The Galveston County Sheriff's Office is preparing for thousands of visitors to the Bolivar Peninsula beachfront this week for an annual event commonly known as "Jeep Weekend."

GCSO Maj. Ray Nolen said deputies have been getting ready since February. He noted the early start to preparations is because of the significant number of arrests last year.

According to Nolen, the department will increase law enforcement resources on the beach and in the area this year to help deter crime.

Nolen said 130 officers and deputies and roughly 15 additional Texas Department of Public Safety troopers worked on patrolling the event last year. He estimates that about 145 law enforcement officers will be working this year, including 20 to 30 additional DPS troopers.

ABC13 obtained GCSO data showing that deputies arrested almost double the number of people in 2023 compared to 2019. There was also a 34% increase in arrests from 2022 to 2023.

SEE MORE: 'Go Topless Jeep Weekend': More than 230 arrests and 283 charges filed during annual event in Galveston County

Several business owners near Crystal Beach said they will be closed this year, hoping to reduce the number of visitors there. They cited the crime and trash left behind from previous events. Nolen said the department did not instruct them to close.

A Tiki Beach bar employee said the business is also closing on Saturday, explaining that the decision was based on the multiple people who walked out without paying last year.

The Island Café manager said the restaurant would be closed through the weekend, explaining that last year's visitors left the beaches in disarray.

An employee of the town's only liquor store said it will be open and declined to comment on why.

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FROM 2019: Thousands sign petition to end Go Topless Jeep Weekend after violent weekend

Rowdy 'Go Topless' weekend draws petition to end event