Gas Leak Evacuee Calls for More Security After Apartment Burglary

A family who evacuated during the natural gas emergency in northwest Dallas returned home to find it had been ransacked.

Sergio Rodriguez and his family left their apartment last Sunday after Atmos Energy discovered a natural gas leak outside the Chapel Creek apartments. Approximately 90 units in the complex remain under a mandatory evacuation.

Rodriguez told NBC 5 that he returned to his apartment the night after his family first evacuated and found the front door unlocked and their property scattered inside.

Rodriguez said he flagged down a police officer and filed a report. Dallas police say the burglar or burglars forced their way into the apartment through a window.

"I feel mad, frustrated," Rodriguez said. "Because we can't do anything."

Rodriguez said his family didn't have a choice in the evacuation. His wife and three kids left when firefighters knocked on their door on the afternoon of Feb. 25. Rodriguez says a police officer let him return the next day for a few minutes, and that's when he discovered the burglary.

"One works hard. For another person to come and take your things, it's not right," Rodriguez said.

Rodriguez said it appears the thieves were after smaller items that could be taken out of the apartment more easily. Among the property taken was his wife's ring, PlayStation and Wii gaming consoles, video games, clothes and movies.

Rodriguez said he'd like to see additional security while the residents are under the mandatory evacuation order.

Dallas police say extra patrol cars have been checking on homes during the natural gas crisis.

The 90 units at the Chapel Creek apartments have been evacuated for more than a week. Over the weekend, Atmos told NBC 5 it didn't have information about when people at Chapel Creek can return home.

The energy company says it's continuing to provide hotel rooms and financial help during the evacuation and will cover rent for those who can't go back to their apartments.

The gas leak was discovered after Atmos crews began surveying the area for gas leaks after a natural gas explosion killed 12-year-old Linda Rogers in her home on Espanola Drive Feb. 23.

Last week, Atmos announced crews would spend up to three weeks replacing gas lines in a wider section of northwest Dallas. Natural gas service to 2,800 customers would be shut off while the lines are replaced.

The work zone is bordered by Webb Chapel Road to the west, Walnut Hill Lane on the north edge, Lakemont Drive to the east, and West Northwest Highway along the southern border. Most in this area do not have to evacuate, but Atmos says it will pay for hotel rooms if customers chose to leave. Some have chosen to stay home, while others have gone to hotels because they don't have hot water or heat in their homes.

Atmos published a map on its website to allow people impacted by the natural gas outage to check back to see when service can be reconnected.

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