by JORDAN GASS-POORÉ
Special to Hays Free Press
While you’re shopping for groceries, others might be shopping for your car and valuables. That’s what local law enforcement officials are saying about recent parking lot thefts.
Buda Police Chief Bo Kidd, said there have been eight motor vehicle thefts and 49 burglaries reported in Buda this year.
Kidd, and Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett say, in general, most motor vehicle burglaries and thefts occur in large retail center parking lots.
Kidd and Barnett agreed that in Buda and Kyle most motor vehicle burglaries and thefts occur in the “Triangle,” which includes the areas around Wal-Mart, Cabela’s and H-E-B.
Barnett said this is a prime area for motor vehicle thieves and burglars because of its accessibility to Interstate 35. He said people in Kyle who participate in community rideshare programs usually leave their cars unattended in large public parking lots during the day.
“Think about where you park,” Kidd said.
Barnett said most vehicle thefts in Kyle are intended for human and drug smuggling across the Texas-Mexico border.
Barnett said SUVs and pickups are more vulnerable to theft because of the large amount of space in the vehicle to store cargo.
In March, at least five Chevrolet pickups were stolen from the Seton Hospital and Cabela’s parking lots. One of the vehicles was recovered in Austin, the others along the Texas-Mexico border.
Barnett said the Seton Hospital parking lot is a favorite of thieves and burglars because motor vehicles are usually left unattended for long periods of time.
Kidd said these “target rich” areas are usually hit between noon and 2 p.m.
The Texas Department of Public Safety has administered a statewide vehicle registration program, Help End Auto Theft, to help law enforcement officials identify stolen vehicles.
Any vehicle owner in Texas can register through the department to obtain decals that authorizes law enforcement officials to stop the vehicle and authorize ownership between 1 and 5 a.m. anywhere in the state.
Program registration is free in most instances.
According to the department’s website, a car is stolen every five-and-a-half minutes in Texas, usually between 1 and 5 a.m.
Kidd said even though more motor vehicle thefts occur during the day and in public areas in Buda, more vehicle burglaries occur at night and in residential areas.
He said people can reduce residential motor vehicle burglaries by installing motion sensor lights, parking vehicles in a secured garage or as close to their house as possible and locking all vehicle doors.
Barnett said an active motor vehicle alarm will also deter thieves and burglars. He said vehicle owners should never leave valuables, such as house keys, or personal identification of any kind in a vehicle.
The Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, formerly the Texas Automobile Theft Prevention Authority, was created in 1991 to support statewide law enforcement agencies through auto theft reduction initiatives, education and public awareness, such as the long-running “Watch Your Car” and more recent “You Are Being Shadowed” campaigns.
According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website, since the ABTPA’s conception, statewide auto theft has decreased by 61 percent per 100,000 registered vehicles.
The combined total economic loss from stolen and burglarized motor vehicles statewide in 2010 totaled more than $800 million.
More Ford and Chevrolet pickups were stolen in 2010 than any other motor vehicle make or model.
In an effort to reduce the recent increase in motor vehicle burglaries and thefts, the Hays County Sheriff’s Office Community Outreach Unit is sharing the following tips to the public about what to do to decrease the chances of being a victim of these crimes.
• Do not leave valuables in distinct view.
• Completely close doors and windows.
• Turn your wheels to the side to make it harder to tow.
• Be cautious of surrounding obstructions and natural barriers that may be concealing a thief.
- Another truck retrieved: Truck thefts on the rise in local hotspots 03/13/2013
- Car burglars strike Creekside, again 05/27/2009
- Three arrested for car burglaries 11/28/2012