Restaurant owners ask chief to stop crime wave in Midtown, Heights and Montrose

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- Frustrated restaurant and small business owners packed a town hall-style meeting with Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo on Monday.

The energetic crowd told the chief and his staff that they are tired of repeated break-ins at the small businesses in Midtown, Montrose, and Heights neighborhoods.

Many business owners pointed out that they often have very good surveillance video of the suspects, and they are shared widely on social media and with TV stations. However, the videos do not seem to get into the hands of the right investigators at HPD.

"I don't think they're keeping up with the level of sophistication" said Bobby Heugel, well-known owner of 10 bars and restaurants, who often speaks out on this subject. "We know we're running affluent restaurants inside the city of Houston, and there are bigger problems out there, but this level of sophistication, has to get response from HPD."

Heugel and others, including owners of the restaurant Cuchara, the Maple Leaf Pub in Midtown, Fluff Bake Bar, and many other entities spoke up about repeated break-ins and the lack of communication with ground-level investigators.

Acevedo says that will improve.

"We're going to open up better avenues of communications, have monthly meetings," he said. "I think we're going to get more organized in terms of the feedback and the commitment to actually pick a social media platform where we can communicate, they can communicate, and we can have situational awareness."

"I think it's great to have the police chief out here," said Heugel, who, like many restaurant owners, voiced general appreciation for the work done by HPD. "However, it's concerning to hear he's surprised that we're not getting feedback from investigators from the break ins."

For his part, Chief Acevedo says there is more than one factor to the problem. He wants to bring in the District Attorney's Office, misdemeanor judges, and other stakeholders into the fold to see if there are better ways to tackle the problem.

Acevedo says the city also needs more funding to hire police officers because they are limited on what they can do with the resources available.

"Don't stop complaining, don't stop calling until we know the impact," said Acevedo, encouraging the business owners to stay engaged.

From the look of the crowd, that will not be a problem.

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