At 3 a.m. Thursday morning, a group of thieves tied a strap from their truck to the doors of The Peddler, a bike shop on 5015 Duval St., and tried to pull the doors off the building, witnesses told Austin police. When the strap broke, they drove the truck through the door and stole at least four bikes worth at least $15,000 total, management said.
The break-in was the fifth time the store has been hit since the start of 2021, according to owner AJ Camp, who said the constant burglaries have left him with $75,000 worth of losses, of which his insurance has only covered $20,000.
"Before 2021—16 years of business—I've never once had a problem," Camp said. "It just keeps on happening. I'm waking up at night and can't sleep and I feel like I need to come down to the store, but I have kids. I can't just leave my kids to go sleep at my bike shop."
Camp is just one of many victims of a bicycle burglary spree that is sweeping across not only Austin but the entire state, according to local reports. Cycle Progression, Mellow Johnny's, Kyle Cyclery, Monkey Wrench, Buda Bike Co., Velorangutan and Trek Bicycle tell Austonia they have all been hit, many of them multiple times.
The biking industry has already been experiencing product shortages due to the pandemic, driving up prices. The carbon fiber wheels on one bike stolen from The Peddler were worth $2,000, Camp said.
With a family to take care of and stomaching a loss of around $50,000, Camp is one of many shop owners in various Facebook groups who say they are considering armoring up and sleeping in their stores to prevent further burglaries.
Velorangutan owner Wesley Hayslip said after two organized break-ins at his store, 3924 Woodbury Drive, he has friends who have offered to guard the store in shifts. Hayslip said he is out thousands of dollars and in the process of having bars put on his front door.
Owners believe the crimes are connected, but their suspicion remains unconfirmed. Hayslip said some people in forums have found their bikes for sale in Monterrey, Mexico.
"I knew it was coming because I had been watching the other shops getting broken into—there's an email chain," Hayslip said. "It's bigger than the guys that are breaking into the store, you know, there's a bigger organization going on."
Joe Ender, owner of North Lamar shop Monkey Wrench Bicycle Repair, said he has been forced to close his doors for good due to a combination of rising rent, three break-ins and high deductible costs for repairs. One break-in, when thieves stole three bikes, cost him $25,000. The store is open until the end of the month.
"It's affecting people's livelihoods," Ender said. "Eventually somebody is going to get tired of spending money on security and locks and bolting bikes to the floor and hiding bikes at their house and having to move them in and out every day just for somebody to defeat those things and continue to destroy property and rip doors off of buildings."
Monkey Wrench is one of many bike shops dealing with major theft. (Joe Ender/Facebook)
The three owners say they see little action from Austin police, whose average response time for urgent and emergency calls remain more than a minute longer than the citywide target, according to a recent APD presentation. Austin police officials attribute the slow response times to staffing shortages, which predate City Council's decision to defund the department last August.
Both Hayslip and Ender reported that they were able to make it to their stores faster than police on at least one occasion. "I live just right here in this area. (There) used to be a presence of APD (and now) you see nobody around to prevent it, and businesses being broken into and the rise of gun violence and stabbings and stupid stuff going on in our no-longer-town."
The Food and Drug Administration will consider Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine application for emergency use authorization in 5-to-11-year-olds on Tuesday. The vaccine will likely be available to kids starting next week.
With 2.9 million Texas children in this age group, state health officials say this is a "big factor" in reducing the virality of COVID. At a Monday press conference, the Texas Department of State Health Services released info on the rollout efforts of the vaccine for children.
Here are some of the answers to your questions.
When and where will it be available?St. David's Healthcare staff unpack the first few shipments of its initial supply of the COVID-19 vaccine on Thursday.(St. David's Healthcare)
Assuming the FDA approves this version of the Pfizer vaccine this week, vaccines will start shipping out almost immediately with the first vaccines for children likely available next week.
DSHS has already put in an order of vaccines under the federal government's "pre-order prior to launch" program.
COVID vaccine providers will begin receiving those first shipments 1-5 days after the approval. After Monday night, DSHS will have put in three different orders for vaccines. The second shipment will arrive 3-7 days after approval and the third shipment will take place 5-9 days after the approval.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention will meet on Nov. 2 and Nov. 3 to discuss best practices for administration, allowing for the first shots to be administered after.
The state will be allocated 1.3 million doses across 814 providers in 120 counties. Individual county allocations have not been released but each county got to send a request for how many doses they may need. Federal retail pharmacies, such as H-E-B and Walgreens, are getting their own shipments.
The health department advises using its vaccine finder tool to find the nearest vaccine provider near you.
How is this version of the vaccine different than the first one?Abbott says COVID vaccine to be available to other groups by end of March
The COVID vaccine for 5-11-year-olds is one-third of the dosage of the current vaccine available to those 12 years of age and older.
It is being identified as the orange cap vaccine, unlike the current purple cap. The purple cap vaccine cannot be administered to younger kids, according to the state health department.
And like the current vaccine, it is 95% effective. The first and second doses are the same and will be advised to be taken 21 days apart.
What are the side effects for children?
During clinical trials, it was reported that some kids in this age group felt pain at the injection site, fatigue and headaches.
The data submitted to the FDA shows no serious complications, such as cases of myocarditis inflammation of the heart muscle, or pericarditis, inflammation of the outer lining of the heart—rare complications that have been reported among young boys and men receiving the vaccine in other trials.
How will this affect herd immunity?
With so many children across the state, DSHS said "we need to have as many people vaccinated as possible."
State health officials said the herd immunity threshold is still being looked into, but with 3 million children soon to be able to get the vaccine, it will be a big factor in reducing the viral load in the state.
"Until we're able to add all the children, we'll see a bigger wave in stamping down the pandemic," DSHS' Imelda Garcia said during the conference.
Of those 12 and older, 72% are fully vaccinated in Travis County as of Monday.
I'm not sure if my child needs this vaccine. Why should I have them get it?
DSHS says this vaccine is important for young kids because it will protect the older population and others around them as well as themselves. The department says to ask experts and doctors questions if you are hesitant so you can be confident with your decision.
Tesla is officially in with the big guns.
After Hertz Global Holdings Inc. placed an order of 100,000 Teslas—the biggest single electric car purchase ever—Tesla officially hit the $1 trillion market cap for the first time.
The trillion-dollar club has some big names, including Apple, Facebook and Amazon. With the purchase, Tesla's stock shot up to more than $1,045 a share by midday Monday, a new record after topping $900 a share just a day earlier.
The $4.2 billion deal is the biggest purchase of electric vehicles to date. Hertz said it will use the Teslas to round out their fleet of electric rental cars by 2022 just months after filing for bankruptcy protection.
The news came just days after Tesla followed its leader, CEO Elon Musk, and relocated its headquarters to Austin. Austin's Giga Texas plant, which is currently finishing construction, is set to begin producing Cybertruck models at the end of 2022 and will begin "volume production" by 2023, Musk said in the meeting.
Musk celebrated the stock market victory on Twitter.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) October 25, 2021
Shortly after moving to Austin, Tesla saw its best quarter yet with Q3 revenue coming in at $13.76 billion—up from $8.77 billion this time last year. It was the electric car companies' ninth straight profitable quarter.
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They say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?
While Northwest Arkansas isn't exactly looking to be a breakfast taco-loving, live music-having tech hub, it is branding itself as the Austin of yesteryear. And who better to come to the quickly-growing paradise than Austinites themselves?
OZ Brands is the latest NW Arkansas organization to entice Austin residents to pack up and make the move. The company, which is named after the area's Ozark Mountains, promotes travel, trails and art within the region and is owned by Runway, a NW Arkansas business investment group. Runway is headed by Walmart founder Sam Walton's grandsons, Steuart and Tom Walton.
OZ is targeting Austinites with the "One Way Out" giveaway, a program that will give at least 10 Austinites a one-way Allegiant ticket from Austin to the Northwest Arkansas National Airport.
"Fall is the perfect time to visit and explore the natural beauty of the Ozarks," the program's website reads. "Why just one way, because once you're here, you won't want to leave!"
Why swap cosmopolitan Austin for NW Arkansas' forest-filled hideaway? Just like other local programs including the Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and the NW Arkansas Council, OZ Brands is looking to capitalize on priced-out Austinites who may not be pleased with the region's unprecedented growth.
"It's okay, Austin, we get it. You're tired of the tourists, the traffic, the hassle," the website says, escalating to an all-caps message reading, "YOU NEED A BREAK, AND WE ARE HERE TO GIVE IT TO YOU."
OZ is far from the first program to offer financial incentives to move to the area. Ads for Greater Bentonville began cropping up on the feeds of Austinites weeks ago as they promoted their annual tech summit, while the NW Arkansas Council rolled out similar ads. Instead of "Austin City Limits," the organizations promised "Bentonville City Limitless." If you "wish you'd bought in Austin 10 years ago," the Council promises that the area is perfect for you.
The Greater Bentonville Chamber of Commerce and NW Arkansas Council have both made moves to bring Austinites to the region. (Greater Bentonville)
Like similar programs in the past, One Way Out "is an opportunity for Austinites who no longer feel at home in their own city to see for themselves the value and qualities of Northwest Arkansas ... It's for those living in the Texas city who feel the growing pains of Austin expanding beyond its limits," the company said in a press release.
The region has recently experienced substantial growth, moving to fourth on the U.S. News and World Report's list of 150 Best Places to Live in the U.S. in 2021-2022 and enjoying an influx of businesses, tech workers and startups tired of the West Coast's crowds and priciness. And with a great arts and culture scene, a lower cost of living and even a financial incentive to move to the area, talents like film producer Kristin Mann decided it was time to swap Austin for sunnier skies in Arkansas.
"I love (Austin) how it is now, don't get me wrong, but I've always fantasized about what it might have been like before it really exploded," Mann said. "And I feel like that's similar here...There's something really unique about this town, and it feels like there's something really exciting happening here."
The contest ends Oct. 29 and is open to anyone 18 and older that lives within 50 miles of Austin. Winners must book their trip within four months of the competition and finish the trip by May 1, 2022.
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