So you think you live and work in a safe neighborhood where crimes don’t happen and the things you keep in your vehicle don’t have any value to a thief? Think again! A vehicle crime is committed in Texas every two minutes. Just because citizens live or work in neighborhoods with low crime rates does not mean they are immune to vehicle crimes. Thieves will go where they believe they can find good opportunities. Most stolen cars are at least four years old. Something as simple as a visible piece of mail with an address can be the reason a thief burglarizes a vehicle. To make matters worse, stolen and burglarized vehicles can be tied to almost all other criminal enterprises including identity theft, drugs, and trafficking.
July is when the most vehicle thefts and burglaries occur in Texas, which is why the ABTPA has declared this month “Watch Your Car Month.” During July, hundreds of vehicle crime task force representatives funded by ABTPA will be working in communities reminding Texas drivers that they must “think like a thief” to avoid falling victim to vehicle criminals. Drivers should consider what they are leaving behind each time they walk away from their vehicles and ask themselves if it will entice or help a thief. In addition, drivers should recognize that thieves want to strike in locations where we are most likely to leave belongings and be separated from our vehicles for longer periods of time. Those places may include malls, gyms, movie theaters and places of worship. In 2010, reported vehicle thefts in Texas totaled 68,220. In approximately half of those cases vehicles were unlocked. This makes the vehicle owner an unwitting accomplice in the theft. We encourage drivers to practice the ‘Hide, Take, Lock’ philosophy: hide belongings, take keys, and lock vehicle doors. By taking these steps, drivers can eliminate much of what makes vehicles attractive to thieves in the first place.