Restaurant and bar owners in Houston are sleeping in their establishments, armed, in order to protect them from robbers.
The restaurant owners have resorted to sleeping in their businesses in order to prevent a recent rash of break-ins that have taken place in recent weeks. The owners said that their businesses have been broken into repeatedly, sometimes by the same suspect. They placed the blame on Houston’s bail policies, which have resulted in more criminals out on the streets.
“We’ve been broken into six times now,” Tod Jones, the owner of Glitter, a karaoke bar in Midtown Houston, told local news outlet KHOU. “They’re coming in, grabbing as many bottles as they can, throwing it in a bag and then they’re out. Both my windows are broken, and I’m like, ‘Man, I don’t even want to fix them because they’re going to be broken again in the next few days.’”
Jones said that the thieves have caused more than $20,000 in damages and stolen alcohol. “At this point, you don’t even want to claim it on your insurance, because you don’t want to lose your insurance,” he said. “You just have to fix it yourself.” KHOU reported that Jones now sleeps at the bar from closing until morning to protect the property.
Raul Jacobo, the owner of Cobos Barbecue in the East Downtown neighborhood, is also sleeping in the back office of his restaurant with a gun waiting for burglars. The restaurant was broken into twice in less than two weeks, despite being a block away from a Houston Police Department office. In one instance, Jacobo and a security guard caught a would-be thief and held him until police arrived. “Police got there, he had his bag with all his tools in it, ski mask,” he said. “Then, next thing I find out, he’s out the next day.”
“We are literally one street away from an [HPD] substation and we have a criminal that is breaking in twice in four days and doesn’t care about any consequence,” he added.
“I have been burglarized 15 times in the last year,” Lindsey Rae, the owner of Two-Headed Dog in Houston, said during a recent city council meeting, via the New York Post. “We’re seeing, if they are getting caught, they’re getting re-released because of the cash bond issues we’re having,” she added. “They can come back and rob us again.”
A 2021 investigation from ABC affiliate KTRK found that Houston’s bail policies have allowed more criminals back onto the streets. The outlet found that in 2011, just 3.5% of cases filed in Harris County court resulted in the defendant being released on felony bond; in 2021, the defendant was released in 18.8% of cases, nearly six times as often. The most frequent charges for defendants who posted felony bond were: felon in possession of a weapon; possession of a controlled substance; or aggravated assault with a deadly weapon.
The investigation also found that criminals were committing more crimes while out on bail. In 2011, just 3.5% of cases involved a defendant who was already out on at least one existing felony bond; in 2021, that number leaped to 19%. Of those cases, 968 accused felons allegedly committed four or more new crimes since being released on bond. One case investigated by the outlet found that the offender was out on 13 separate bonds.