July is Watch Your Car Awareness Month in Texas and the East Texas Auto Theft Task Force, Tyler Police Department and the Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA) warn Texans they need to actively protect themselves against vehicle theft. Pickups are not only popular among Texas Drivers; they are also the top targets for Texas vehicle thieves!
2010 TOP 5 STOLEN VEHICLES IN TEXAS
1. Ford Pickup 6,233
2. GM Pickup 5,229
3. Dodge Pickup 2,931
4. Honda Civic 1,629
5. Chevrolet Tahoe 1,587
2010 TOP 5 STOLEN VEHICLES IN CITY of TYLER
1. Chevrolet Pickup 20
2. Ford Pickup 10
3. Chevrolet Caprice 10
4. Ford Crown Victoria 8
5. Mercury Gr. Marquis 7
6. Chevrolet Impala 7
Vehicles are stolen for a variety of reasons, and contrary to popular belief, the most stolen vehicles are several years old. Some are stolen and stripped for parts. Others are stolen and resold by the thief to another party. Many vehicles are stolen for joyriding, robbery, for use in committing other crimes, to support drug habits, drug smuggling or to perpetrate insurance fraud. Vehicle theft costs Texans more money than any other crime. According to the Texas Department of Public Safety Uniform Crime Report, there were 68,220 vehicles stolen in 2010 with an economic loss of over $635,570,078. There were 261,166 thefts from motor vehicles including motor vehicle parts with an economic loss of $219,274,501. It is important that we acknowledge this trend and educate the citizens of Texas in how to protect their car. In the City of Tyler 207 vehicles were reported stolen in 2010 and 367 were reported stolen in all of Smith County. Auto Burglaries reported for the City of Tyler were 1,054.
While there is no totally foolproof way to prevent theft, the ATBPA recommends a few common-sense steps to help protect your car.
NO COST PRECAUTIONS TO PROTECT YOUR CAR
1. Take Your Keys. One out of every five vehicles stolen had the keys in it.
2. Lock Your Car. Approximately half of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
3. Never Hide a Second Set of Keys in Your Car. Extra keys can easily be found if a thief takes time to look.
4. Park in Well-Lighted Areas.
5. Park in attended Lots. Auto thieves do not like witnesses and prefer unattended parking lots.
6. If You Park in an Attended Lot, Leave Only the Ignition/Door Key. If your trunk and glove box use the same key as the door, have one of them changed. Don't give the attendant easy access to your glove box and trunk. Upon returning, check the tires, spare and battery to insure they are the same as those you had when you parked.
7. Never Leave Your Car Running, Even if You'll Only Be Gone for a Minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATM's, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when the owner leaves the vehicle running to warm up or on hot days to keep the vehicle cool. Leaving your key in an unattended motor vehicle is a crime in Texas punishable by a fine of up to $200.
8. Completely Close Car Windows When Parking. Don't make it any easier for the thief to enter your vehicle.
9. Don't Leave Valuables in Plain View. Don't make your car a more desirable target for thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.
INVESTING IN VEHICLE PROTECTION
1. Ignition Kill Switch. Splice an inexpensive toggle switch into your ignition wire or to your starter. The trick is hiding the switch well. Keypads, pressure pads and more expensive "Immobilizers" and "Passkeys" can also be used.
2. Fuel Kill Switch. The valve that halts the fuel supply is closed.
3. Visible steering wheel lock. Prevents the steering wheel from being turned.
4. Floorboard Locks. Devices that disable the gas or brake pedal.
5. Gearshift Locks. Disables shifting of the transmission.
6. Tire/Wheel Locks. Prevents the vehicle from moving.
7. Hood Locks. Prevents the thief from gaining access to your security system and battery.
8. Armored collar around the steering column. Protects the column and ignition.
9. Alarms. Security systems which make loud warning sounds when door/hood/trunk are opened. Optional sensors detect glass breakage, motion, tampering, and towing. Panic buttons, back-up batteries, flashing parking lights or headlights, and automatic engine disable features are also popular.
10. Vehicle Tracking. Transmitter hidden in car enables police to track car (may not be available in all areas).
ABOUT THE EAST TEXAS AUTO THEFT TASK FORCE
The East Texas Auto Theft Task Force (ETATTF) is the ABTPA Task force covering our area. It is a multi-agency Task Force which is represented by the Smith Co. District Attorney's Office, the Smith Co. Sheriff's Office, the Tyler Police Department, the Rusk Co. Sheriff's Office, the Upshur Co. Sheriff's Office and the Texas Department of Public Safety. Their office is located in Tyler and can be contacted by calling 903-593-6090.
More information regarding auto theft can be obtained at the ABTPA Web Site:
www.txwatchyourcar.com or by calling