More than 65,000 cars and trucks are stolen and nearly 200,000 are burglarized each year in Texas, according to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. As July is one of the leading months for vehicle thefts, it is also National Vehicle Theft Prevention Month and AAA Texas is reminding automobile owners to take steps to protect their vehicles and valuables.
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According to the FBI, a motor vehicle is stolen every 42 seconds in the U.S., at an average value of $8,407 per incident, totaling $6.3 billion per year. Most vehicle crimes occur in a parking garage/lot or at the victim’s home. In Texas, many incidents involve drivers who leave key fobs in the vehicle or do not lock their vehicle.
“There are many steps vehicle owners can implement to help prevent thieves from stealing their vehicle and valuables,” said AAA Texas spokesperson Daniel Armbruster. “Unfortunately, in many instances drivers are leaving their doors unlocked, key fobs or valuables behind, and that will only invite criminals to take advantage of the situation.”
When factoring in the population size of Texas’ largest metropolitan areas, 2018 FBI crime data shows the Lubbock area with the most vehicle thefts per capita. The Odessa area is ranked second highest, followed by Amarillo, Houston and Dallas/Fort Worth respectively.
To view motor vehicle theft rates for all Texas metropolitan areas, click here.
AAA Texas offers the following tips to prevent vehicle burglary and theft:
- Always lock your vehicle with the windows closed.
- Never leave valuables inside the car, especially not in clear view, including small electronics, keys, purses, wallets, checkbooks, personal paperwork or any personal identification.
- Bring electronics and personal items into your home or office.
- Use anti-theft or automatic tracking devices. If your vehicle wasn’t equipped with an alarm or hidden tracking device when purchased, have one installed.
- Never leave your keys in your vehicle, even at a gas station or at home.
- Never hide a spare ignition key in your vehicle, including under floor mats, sun visor, etc.
- Whenever possible, park your vehicle in a secure garage or a well-lit area at night.
- Never leave the vehicle running at any time when you’re not in it. This includes your driveway, while picking up friends, or while at a grocery store, dry cleaner or shopping mall.
- If you own a popular vehicle among car thieves, like an older Honda, find a secondary locking device for your vehicle and use it.
- Beware of thieves stealing cars during test drives. If you’re advertising a vehicle for sale online or on Craigslist, get driver’s license information of the prospective buyer and enough information on where they’re going to ensure the potential buyer will want to bring the car back.
- Have windows VIN etched. Car window VIN etchings are small, but visible enough to deter thieves, according to law enforcement officials. Since car thieves frequently steal vehicles to sell off the automobile’s parts, a window that is VIN etched makes a vehicle less profitable for thieves and helps law enforcement recover stolen vehicles.
About AAA: AAA provides more than 60 million members with automotive, travel, insurance and financial services through its federation of motor clubs and nearly 1,000 branch offices across North America. Since 1902, the not-for-profit, fully tax-paying AAA has been a leader and advocate for safe mobility. Drivers can request roadside assistance, identify nearby gas prices, locate discounts, book a hotel or map a route via the AAA Mobile app. AAA Texas branch offices throughout the state can be found by visiting www.AAA.com. Follow AAA Texas on Twitter: @AAATexas and Facebook: www.facebook.com/AAATexas. Find additional news from AAA Texas in our online newsroom at http://tx-aaa.iprsoftware.com/.