Athens Review, Athens, Texas

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July 12, 2013

‘Watch Your Car Month’

It’s an ideal time to evaluate vulnerability

Athens — AUSTIN — The Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA), part of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles (TxDMV), reports that auto theft in Texas has decreased 61 percent since 1991.

There were 163,837 vehicles stolen in Texas in 1991, when ABTPA was formed, and the latest figures from 2011 show that auto theft has dropped to 63,379 stolen vehicles, according to the Texas Uniform Crime Reports.

“While this is a significant decrease, Texans should not be complacent,” said Charles Caldwell, director of ABTPA. “Auto crime accounts for millions of dollars in economic losses and is a bridge to other serious crimes.”

In 2008, ABTPA added auto burglary to its purview. ABTPA also reports that auto burglaries have decreased by 14.8 percent between 2008 and 2011. Auto crime includes burglaries (stealing the items inside a vehicle) and theft (stealing the entire vehicle).

Think Like a Thief is the campaign message Texans will see and hear around the state during “Watch Your Car Month” this July. ABTPA will use various forms of advertising as part of this educational effort. Ads will appear on gas stations TVs and at movie theaters, as well as on radio and the Internet.

“We are asking Texans to use Watch Your Car Month to evaluate whether or not they’re doing all they can to reduce the likelihood that they’ll be a victim of auto crime,” said Caldwell.

The Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority offers these tips:

•    Keep CDs, books, clothes and other personal belongings out of sight. Do not leave behind valuables, such as cell phones, laptops, instruments, purses or wallets.

•    Stop idling. Whether you’re “warming up” your vehicle or making a quick trip inside the gas station, running vehicles left unattended become tempting targets for thieves.

•    Don’t leave loose change in the console or cup holder. Thieves may break into your vehicle for a small amount of change.

•    Store your garage door opener in your glove compartment or take it with you. Garage door openers allow access into your home. Thieves can use left-behind mail or an insurance card to learn your address.

•    Ask valets and auto repair shops to not leave the keys in your vehicle if it will be unattended.

•    Always keep your keys with you — never leave them in the vehicle.

•    Lock your vehicle.

•    Park in well-lit, high-traffic areas, and use a car alarm if possible.

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