Dozens of Vehicles Burglarized
If you live in an apartment complex, check your lease and you will very likely find a disclaimer that the complex is not responsible for the safety of your vehicle or its contents, meaning that if your vehicle is broken into, it’s your and your insurance company’s problem. You will likely also notice signs to that effect placed all over your complex’s parking area. That’s true to a point, but there can be exceptions. The Harris County Sheriff’s Office has announced that over the weekend before this Fourth of July, dozens of vehicles parked at the Retreat at Cypress Station apartment complex located at 18200 Westfield Place Road in north Harris County and the immediately surrounding area were burglarized. Many residents came out to find their vehicles with windows smashed, glass all over and personal property stolen. Investigation continues and no arrests have been made.
Normally, in Texas there is no duty to control the criminal acts of another and no liability to victims of crime which occurs on a particular commercial property. However, where the complex is placed on notice by the frequent or pervasive occurrence of criminal acts on its property that such incidents are both common and foreseeable, the rules change under what the Texas Supreme Court called the “criminal-activity exception” in its 2015 decision in Austin v. Kroger, (in which the Court relied on its previous decision, Timberwalk Apartments v. Cain). Considering this recent rash of incidents as an example, a particular apartment complex where such occur may not be liable because it had no prior knowledge that they would or were reasonably likely to occur. But, now that they have, and even more certainly if such incidents continue, such a complex cannot turn a blind eye to foreseeable events which create an unreasonable risk to safety and take no action. That might include better parking area lighting, posting a guard in the area, stepping up security patrols, enhancing access restrictions or other prudent measures. At the very least, you should demand such enhanced steps. But, if the complex does nothing, it may be liable for future losses, lease provisions and parking area signs notwithstanding.
If you are victimized in such circumstances as occurred here, please consider calling us. We can advise you as to your rights and help make you whole.