Top 5 Most Stolen Cars - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

2/6/04

Top 5 Most Stolen Cars

When it comes to stealing cars in Texas, thieves have their favorites. Last year, the GM Suburban came in 5th. Dodge trucks came in 4th. The Honda Accord took 3rd. Ford trucks were the 2nd most stolen vehicles. And the number one stolen vehicle in Texas: the General Motors pickup truck.

"Basically, you could just take parts off of one vehicle and put them on another over a vast time frame," Gary King, an investigator with the East Texas Auto Theft Task Force, said.

So how can you make your automobile less attractive to thieves?

"A lot of our thieves go through parking lots, whether it's Wal-Mart or whatever, and they go by and they're checking door handles," King said.

Half of all vehicles stolen were simply left unlocked. Twenty percent of car thefts happen because the owner leaves the key in the ignition. Take your key out and lock the door, even if you're just making a quick stop. In fact, it's illegal to leave your car running while unattended.

"Alarm systems are great," King said. "You know, we've all gotten in the past years where we hear an alarm, oh well, an alarm's going off. But when a car thief is going to get into a vehicle, whether they break the window or manipulate the locking mechanism, if the alarm goes off, most likely it's going to scare them away."

Getting a "kill switch" installed can make it harder for a thief to drive your car away, even if he gets inside.

"Anytime you arm the system, it shuts off the ignition or the starter wire, depending on the vehicle," Travers Rodden, a technician at Alta Mere Window Tinting and Auto Alarms, said.

"Professional car thieves, when they strip a vehicle, this glass is very valuable to them, all the glass," King said.

But the glass is worthless to them, if you get your vehicle's VIN number etched onto the windows and major parts. Law enforcement officials here do it for free. And don't leave your vehicle's title or registration in the glove compartment. Another good idea: Drop a business card or other I.D. inside the doors. It will help police identify the real owner, if your vehicle is stolen. Time is a thief's worst enemy. The longer it takes to steal your car, the more likely the thief will just move on.

According to the East Texas Auto Theft Task Force, auto theft has gone down 28 percent from 2002 to 2003. Here are some more common sense precautions that can help keep thefts down: Don't leave valuables in plain sight inside your vehicle. Park in well-lit areas, and if you have a garage, use it. Parking with your wheels toward the curb makes your car harder to tow away, and so does using your emergency brake.

Julie Tam, reporting.

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