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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Craig Staley, owner of Royal Blue Grocery, has a stack of surveillance footage capturing crime at his downtown stores.

One video from earlier this month shows a man assaulting an employee.

“He punched him in the face,” Staley said. “Huge black eye. And we lost him as an employee. He was a great employee, had been with us a number of years.”

Still of surveillance video
A surveillance image moments before a store manager was punched in the face.

Staley says police had previously cited the suspect for criminal trespassing, and the manager – who quit after this encounter – asked the man to leave. Jail records show the suspect in this case was arrested for assault.

Now, Staley says, the store can’t stay open on weekends because he doesn’t have enough staff.

Staley says this is just one of the problems employees at his six Downtown Austin locations face.

“People will just crack open a beer and drink it right in front of us,” he said.

Another surveillance video he showed KXAN showed a man stealing tips off the counter.

While Staley says he’s – of course – the most concerned about people attacking his staff, crimes that cost his business money are spiking.

“Really stuck when it comes to dealing with these folks,” he said. “There’s no point calling 911. They’re not going to get there in time.”

We’ve been asking the Austin Police Department about crimes like these – both at Royal Blue Grocery and other locations – since last Thursday, but still have not heard back. We’re hoping to speak with officers about what they recommend store owners like Staley do to protect their businesses.

In previous reports, APD has mentioned staffing struggles as a major obstacle when it comes to proactive patrols and response times. Staley said he hopes a stronger presence downtown is part of a long-term plan.

In October, APD asked the public to start calling 311 instead of 911 for non-emergencies and crimes that are no longer in progress.

“It’s a problem that’s getting worse right now and not better,” Staley said.

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