STOLEN ARTWORK: Two paintings that were stolen from Gone Again Travel in Austin. | Submitted

I haven’t ranted in a while. Because ranting is good for the soul, I want to let loose on something that has been bothering me since I learned it occurred.

The photo you see in my column today is an image that my friend Crystal Dyer took of her office. She’s the owner of Gone Again Travel, 5940 W. Chicago Ave. Since opening her business on the West Side, she’s been a force for good. Crystal is not the kind of business owner who takes and doesn’t give back. She has gotten involved in many efforts that are positive for this community. She is especially dedicated when it comes to ex-offenders and the prison pipeline. And her reward? The old people said it best: “No good deed goes unpunished!”

Recently a low-life (and I bet it’s someone who lives within a two-block radius) decided to break into her business and steal some things. Among the things they took are these two pictures. I am one who loves art. I can tell from the uniqueness of the images in these paintings that they are quite rare. Therefore, if they are on the wall in someone’s house, it isn’t because there are one million copies of them abounding. The pictures are there because of the thieving nature of someone who has been or is living under that roof.

Owning and operating a business in Austin is tough enough without having to deal with criminals who will break in and steal. It is a sad reality that burglar bars and wrought iron fences abound in Austin because of such criminal elements. This community was once filled with block after block of well-manicured lawns and stately bungalows. Now we look like an extension of Stateville, Pontiac, or Menard! 

We have turned this bedroom community into a look-alike of those prisons. It adds another dimension to the notion that our criminal element will feel at home when they are sentenced to go there! The only difference between prison cells and wrought iron fences is the capacity to go out of them when you want. Living behind them, that’s a different story!

And the pathetic reality is that all those gates and fences do not make one safer. They just give the illusion of safety. Children raised behind bars surrounding their homes won’t get a reality shock when they end up in a jail cell. It will feel like home in more ways than one! All these wrought iron fences do is cause people to not get involved in the community. The only weapon against criminality is a vigilant community that doesn’t tolerate it!

We need to stop nurturing and turning a blind eye to the criminal element and their destructive behavior. There’s no greater idiosyncrasy than to have so many churches while at the same time having so much crime. We can’t be a God-believing and God-fearing people while allowing the Devil to do his work amongst us. So if you know who has these paintings or who stole them, make them return the paintings to Crystal even if done anonymously. They can mail them back or have someone bring them back. Take a stand for decency!