Heights business owners say crime is rising

A number of restaurants and bars in The Heights neighborhood claim there’s been an uptick in the number of break-ins into their businesses. Some owners said enough is being done to address the growing problem.

Bobby Heugel, who owns Better Luck Tomorrow and Squabble in the Heights, called out the Houston Police Department and Mayor Sylvester Turner in a social media post on Monday. Heugel said the issue has become such a common and recurring problem in The Heights and the city needs to do more to prevent business owners from being targeted again.

“I think it’s fair to say that the city has been negligent about this specific problem that we’re having. When you’re having this much repetition of the same type of crime in the same type of neighborhood,” said Heugel.

Heugel said every time a break-in happens, the cost of the repairs of broken glass, locks, and damaged security systems becomes more expensive than what’s actually stolen.

“Most businesses don’t leave cash in safes now because they know that it’s dangerous. I would say that our costs here just in the last three months is well over $30,000 just to repair everything,” said Heugel.

Better Luck Tomorrow was broken into again last Tuesday. In his 11 years as a business owner in the Houston area, Heugel said he’s never seen break-ins this frequent.

“We’ve been broken into here three times in the past two months. I know friends that own bars and restaurants that have been broken into as many as seven or eight times in the past two months,” Heugel said.

Heugel also owns Anvil in Montrose, The Pastry War, Tongue Cut Sparrow, and Okra Charity Saloon downtown.

Heugel’s complaints were echoed by Chris Cusack, owner of the restaurant Down House a few blocks away.

Down House’s General Manager Marshal Tofte said burglar pried open the front door overnight Sunday but didn’t get away with anything.  

“It used to be about once or twice a year and I think we’ve been hit four times in the last five months,” Tofte said.  

Over the course of the last year, Tofte said Down House has made significant changes to their outside security as a deterrent.

“Our side door, the glass used to get broken into a lot, so we installed these riot-proof prison type bars on the doors, which make it super inviting for everyone on the patio,” said Tofte.

“But since then, we’ve just had people break in through the front door instead,” Tofte added.

Heugel and Tofte both said they believe businesses in The Heights are targeted more frequently because of the location’s proximity to the freeways.

Mayor Sylvester Turner responded to the complaints with a statement: 

“Houston Police have made arrests in connection to some break-ins. We are increasing the number of police officers, and providing additional dollars for overtime to immediately increase the number of police officers that are patrolling.”

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