Mineral Wells Index, Mineral Wells, TX

November 29, 2013

Holiday reminder: Safe practices can prevent car theft


Mineral Wells Index

— By CLINT FOSTER

The holiday shopping season has officially arrived and there is no better time to remind readers of the importance of safe practices to prevent car burglaries and thefts.

According to the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority – a division of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles – a vehicle is burglarized every two minutes and stolen every eight minutes in the State of Texas. These statistics have a tendency to escalate between

Thanksgiving and Christmas when multiple drivers tend to be out shopping or visiting with family and friends and sometimes leave belongings in plain sight in the vehicle or forget to lock doors.

During 2012, Texas experienced 221,023 incidents of vehicle burglary and 64,982 vehicle thefts and, in some jurisdictions, more than half of these thefts occurred because the car doors were unlocked and the keys left inside, according to the Texas Department of Public Safety. In Mineral Wells alone, there were 23 recorded cases of auto theft in 2011, albeit a much lower number than the 44 the previous year.

Mineral Wells Police Chief Dean Sullivan offered similar advise to local citizens concerning auto crime during Christmastime.

“We’ve been fortunate in years past not to have a significant problem on the subject of people burglarizing cars during the holiday season,” he said. “But it’s a good time to remind everybody not to leave your keys in the car or your car running.

“If you’re out shopping, especially if you go to the Metroplex, hide your belongings, lock your car and take your keys with you. Those situations present opportunities for some criminal types that like to prey on the holiday public. We don’t want anybody to have a bad holiday because they got broken into or lost their car in the process.”

In a press release, Michelle Lanham, who is program coordinator for ABTPA’s Reduce Auto Theft in Texas  public awareness task force at the Denton Police Department, said auto burglars tend to scout malls, shopping centers, entertainment venues, hotel and other business parking lots looking for vehicles to break into. This makes vigilance during this time of the year when those places are more frequented all the more important.

“Drivers need to understand that almost anything they leave inside theri vehicles can be valuable to a thief,” she said. “When vehicles are left unlocked and unattended, drivers are inviting thieves to walk away with everything they see inside, which

often includes gifts, purses, wallets packages, electronics, suitcases, garage door openers, keys and personal information.”

The release said vehicle crimes can often be a gateway for further property crimes because thieves can acquire personal information from a car and then find and burglarize a driver’s house or steal their identity.

The ABTPA and its 29 vehicle crime task forces throughout Texas promote a basic vehicle crime prevention philosophy to help drivers avoid becoming another statistic.

The mantra is “Protect It, It’s Yours” and includes three basic safety tips to help prevent thefts and burglaries during the holidays and the rest of the year.

Drivers should always:

• Remove belongings from view.

• Secure vehicles.

• Never leave keys inside.

The ABTPA also suggest in addition to these three steps that drivers always park in well-lit areas, near surveillance cameras and heavy foot and vehicle traffic.

“The more thieves feel threatened by detection, the less likely they are to focus on targets in such areas,” the release said.

For more information on the ABTPA, auto burglary, vehicle theft, prevention, statistics or public service announcements, call 800-CAR-WATCH or visit www.txwatchyourcar.com.