Texas Trucks Top List of Stolen Vehicles

The Texas Department of Transportation has released its 2001 report on the top five vehicles stolen statewide. Judging by the results, it seems everybody loves a pickup in Texas, including the auto thieves.

General Motor truck models secured the top spot on this year's list; meanwhile, the Ford pick-up came in second. The Honda Accord, GM Suburban and Toyota Camry filled the remaining slots.

Every car landed the same spot as last year. The reason, says Gary King with the East Texas Auto Task Force, "is that these vehicles are popular for people to drive. They're popular vehicles on the road, so they're vehicles you're going to target first."

The equation is popular vehicles equal profitable parts.

TxDot's study says most stolen cars are stripped and sold in parts. In models like the GM, parts are easily interchangeable and high demand, according to King.

Vehicles that are at least 5 years old represent the average target for auto thieves. King says sophisticated security systems in newer models can deter seasoned criminals.

But, he says, if thieves want in, they'll get in.

"They'll either break the glass, or manipulate the locking mechanism," says King. "Obviously, one of the first things they'll do is see if the vehicle's owner left the keys in the ignition."

The Auto Task Force says statewide about 25 % of the cases involve a driver who left keys in the car.

They say the best way to protect a car is to never leave keys inside, purchase a security system and register for the Heat Program. If you sign up, officers will put a sticker on your back window.

The sticker gives police probable cause to pull your car over anytime it's out between the hours of 1:00 am and 5:00 p.m.

Kerri Panchuk, reporting.