Car theft puts two East Texas cities on top 50 list

By Morgan Chesky - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Two East Texas cities are being recognized for making a list law enforcement isn't happy about. The National Crime Bureau reports the Longview-Tyler area made the top fifty U.S. cities of vehicle thefts in 2009.

They strike no particular place...for no particular reason, other than wanting what's inside or outside your vehicle.

"The rates of auto theft are high in Texas because we border another county and we're a big state," said Gary King with East Texas Auto Theft Task Force.

Nationally 2009 auto thefts went down by nearly a quarter million, but Texas holds the exceptions. In 2008 the Tyler/Longview area ranked 67th in auto theft with 784 thefts on the National Crime Bureau's list. 2009, saw a jump in thefts to 794 and the new title of 48th highest number of stolen vehicles.

One of the mains reasons authorities attribute the rising auto thefts to was the recession. "When the economy is hard people [are] out of jobs," said King. "Fraud increases and when fraud increases we have more vehicle thefts reported."

Authorities say vehicle theft can happen anywhere but add it's easier at apartment complexes especially when it comes to motorcycles. Small and lightweight they make an easy target for thieves.

Taken apart and sold online, Craigslist and other sites give thieves a quick profit turnaround with an endless inventory.

Recent numbers signal success. From March to May in 2009 Smith, Upshur, and Rusk counties reported 202 vehicles stolen. A year later the same three month window shows significantly less with only 117.

Authorities say while it may be an added investment to your vehicle, On-Star and other locating services dramatically cut down vehicle recovery time when stolen. How can you keep from being a statistic? Almost 50 percent of the vehicles stolen in Texas have the keys in them.

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