Pickup truck drivers, take note... your Ford, Chevrolet or Dodge could be a thief's next target.
According to the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, those three pickup makes were the most stolen vehicles in the state last year.
The reason is simple-- what is popular with citizens is popular with thieves
"There's more demand for parts from thieves because there's more of them on the roadway," says Tyler Police Investigator, Gary King, who is assigned to the East Texas Auto Theft Task Force.
You might think newer cars sit atop thieves hit lists, but King says just the opposite.
"Vehicles 10 years old and older are more popular [among thieves] for a number of reasons. The technology on the ignition system and door locks is not as good so they're easier to steal," King says.
Last year, Ford pickups were the most stolen vehicle in the state, followed by Chevy and Dodge trucks. The Honda Civic and Chevrolet Tahoe rounded out the top five. The next five most stolen cars were the Honda Accord, GMC Pickup, Chevrolet Impala, Toyota Camry and Ford Taurus.
In Tyler, the stats were similar for 2012:
1) Dodge Pickup
2) Chevrolet Pickup
3) Ford Pickup
4) Toyota Camry
5) Ford Explorer
"Cars are stolen all over the city, but we have 5 specific areas where most of the cars seem to be stolen," says Longview Police Officer Kristie Brian.
In Longview, more than 300 vehicles were reported stolen last year. Most often, those thefts were on the Eastern and Western edges of town near Highway 80.
Thieves often break into cars whenever valuables are left in plain sight, but you may be surprised to learn how often the thieves search the car for more things to steal and run across the keys. Then an auto burglary turns into an auto theft.
"We have 6,000 to 7,000 vehicles stolen every month in the state of Texas. We could reduce that by about half if people would just remove their keys from the vehicle," King says.
If you suspect a theft in progress, authorities urge you not to hesitate in calling police.
"A lot of people say they don't want to waste our time or be embarrassed because the person wasn't doing anything wrong, but more times than not, the public getting involved because of suspicious activity has helped us solve the crime," says Brian.
The East Texas Auto Theft Task Force says the steps to keep your vehicle safe are simple, but more than half of people who have their vehicle's stolen didn't follow them.
They say the removing all keys from the vehicle, locking the doors, rolling up your windows and hiding valuables are the most important things to remember. They also discourage leaving your car running while it's unattended. Yes, even early in the morning when it's cold and you're trying to warm it up.
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