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East Austin Motels Blacklist Criminals

Updated: Wednesday, May 15 2013, 09:55 PM CDT

Austin motels lining I-35 are no longer leaving their light on for criminals.

For years, motels near the Rundberg area have swarmed with drug dealers, gangs and prostitutes. As part of the $1 million dollar grant for the "Restore Rundberg" Initiative, the Austin Police Department is fighting back against crime one motel at a time.

Motels in the area have complied "Do Not Rent" list to keep out criminals. Red Roof Inn Desk Manager Matt Franklin said the staff is keeping a watchful eye and makes an effort to constantly know what is going on at the property.

Over the last year the Red Roof Inn staff has compiled a "Do Not Rent" list that is about the size of a phonebook. It is filled with names of people banned from ever renting a room at the motel.

"It's a tremendous tool for us," Franklin said. "Once you are on that list you can never, will never, stay here again."

The list is comprised of people banned from instances ranging anywhere from prostitution to damaging property.

"In a sense we are rid of that person and the traffic," Franklin said. "It's defiantly not an easy task. It definitely seemed a bit overwhelming when I first started here."

Austin police said the easy access along the highway makes the area and motels a hot spot for crime. APD has teamed up with motels to help keep out unwanted guests.

"Basically they are a big brother," Franklin said.

APD passed out flyers as an invitation to a group meeting that was held on Wednesday afternoon. About seven managers from area hotels attended. At the meeting APD passed out a master "Do Not Rent List" they compiled from each motel.

APD Senior Officer, Taber White, said about 300 repeat offenders are on the new, refined list.

"If they are able to look at these lists and see that they have been causing multiple problems in the community here," Taber said, "then they can take another look at whether or not they want to do business with that person."

Police urged more motels to jump on board and help the fight against crime.

Franklin said there is a long way to go until Rundberg is restored, but he said until then the vacancy light at his motel is no longer left on for criminals.

"We want to keep shooting them off the list," Franklin said. "We want to keep going until we don't have an issue anymore."

By Cassie GalloEast Austin Motels Blacklist Criminals

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