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Northeast Texas Auto Theft Task Force – July Is Watch Your Car Month!

(Paris, TX) The warm summer months are upon us! As you prepare for the parks, ball games, cookouts, and other outdoor activities, thieves are preparing for you to make a mistake by leaving your vehicle unlocked.

There has been a recent spike in the burglary of motor vehicles in Lamar County. These burglaries occur late at night or early in the morning when most of the public is asleep. The burglars are targeting vehicles that are left unlocked and taking anything of value. More important, they are getting access to firearms left in cars. The Paris Police Department, Lamar County Sheriff’s Office, Reno Police Department, and the Northeast Texas Auto Theft Task Force encourage you to make sure you lock your vehicles and remove valuables.

The Texas Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority (MVCPA), a division of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, reminds drivers that a vehicle is burglarized every two minutes and stolen every eight minutes in the state.

These crimes can escalate during the summer season when the weather is warm. With our busy schedules and activities, some drivers become negligent in locking doors and taking keys. A thief won’t necessarily stop by taking your vehicle and the things inside to make matters worse. They may also look for personal documents and items that can help them steal your identity or gain access to your home. In other words, the theft or burglary of your vehicle may be a gateway to the commission of additional crimes.

Auto burglars are more likely to burglarize an unlocked vehicle instead of a locked one. Drivers need to understand that almost anything they leave inside their vehicles can be valuable to a thief. When vehicles are left unlocked and unattended, drivers invite thieves to walk away with everything they see inside, which often includes firearms, purses, wallets, packages, electronics, suitcases, garage door openers, keys, and personal information.

According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, thieves committed 154,274 acts of burglary and stole 84,170 vehicles in Texas during 2020. More than half of the vehicles stolen had unlocked doors and keys left inside in some jurisdictions, but drivers can avoid becoming part of these statistics. The MVCPA and its 24 vehicle crime task forces in Texas promote a basic vehicle crime prevention philosophy: “Protect It, It’s Yours.” Motorists should practice three essential safety tips to help prevent theft and burglary during the summer months and throughout the year:

  1. Remove belongings from view
  2. Secure vehicles
  3. Never leave keys inside

In addition to practicing these prevention methodologies, drivers should park in well-lit areas, near surveillance cameras, if available, and near the heavy foot and vehicle traffic. The more thieves feel threatened by detection, the less likely they will focus on targets in such areas.