The Austin City Limits Music Festival fell victim to a reported pickpocketing ring that took to pickpocketing guests at the festival during the second weekend of the event. So far one arrest has been made of a 23-year-old male named Victor Manuel Castro Ordonez. He has been charged with organized criminal activity, which constitutes a third-degree felony. The arrest was made on Friday, October 13th. He was found with a bag full of dozens of stolen cell phones.
The festival security guards were receiving many reports of stolen cell phones from all around the event and the Austin Police Department detective who was on duty providing additional security began investigating. They found Castro Ordonez with a tote bag secured around him. Within the tote bag was another bag, this being a Faraday bag. This bag famously blocks cellular reception, a concept included in the design so that phones cannot be tracked. When the police arrested Castro Ordonez, they found approximately 35AC cell phones.
Each cell phone was a newer model, and the total value was likely around $45,000.
Pickpocketing is nothing new to ACL. Neither is the fact that it was not just an isolated pickpocketing incident, but rather much larger in a pickpocketing ring. In 2021, there was a ring in which more than 250 cell phones were stolen. Unfortunately, the nature of the festival makes many of the concertgoers easy targets. The crowds are packed tightly together, and people are distracted by the artists on stage and do not notice/feel when their phone, or anything else, has been stolen from them.
The police and festival security were able to identify Castro Ordonez as the culprit after one victim of his thievery was able to get their phone back from a group, him being one of the people in the group. Two of the people in the group were able to escape into the crowds when the police approached them. Castro Ordonez attempted to escape police pursuit but ultimately was detained.
One victim, Garrett Williams, described what happened to him.
He said while he was in the crowd two bigger guys reached him in the crowd, after he saw them “aggressively pushing” their way into the crowd. Williams said they came from both sides of him and had pressed into him for about 3-4 seconds. He said he was not surprised by the bumping as that is common in this type of crowd, but the length of time was odd. Then he discovered that his phone was suddenly missing. He was surprised and upset because he had his phone in his front pocket, something he thought was a pickpocketing prevention option.