The holiday season is upon us! And just as you prepare to shop, thieves are preparing to shop, too . . . . . in your vehicle!
The Paris Police Department and the Lamar County Sheriff’s Office operate jointly within the “Northeast Texas
Motor Vehicle Task Force” and have seen a recent spike in burglary of motor vehicles in the Paris / Lamar County
area. These burglaries are occurring late at night or early in the morning when most of the public are asleep. The
burglars are targeting vehicles that are left unlocked, and taking anything of value.
More importantly, they are getting access to and stealing firearms left in vehicles. The Paris Police Department along with the Northeast Texas Auto Theft Task Force encourage you to make sure you lock your vehicles, and removed valuables – especially firearms.
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 throughout Texas. These crimes can escalate during the holiday season when drivers frequently shop for gifts, and travel to visit friends and family.
During these times, drivers are more likely to leave belongings within view inside vehicles.
The hustle and bustle of the season may also cause drivers to become negligent in locking doors and taking keys.
To make matters worse, a thief won’t necessarily stop with taking your vehicle and the things inside. 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 simply be the beginning of a long exercise in doing damage control after your identity has been compromised, or secondary property crimes involving your residence.
Auto burglars are more likely to scout malls, shopping centers, entertainment venues, hotels, and other business parking lots this time of year looking for opportunities to break into vehicles. Drivers need to understand that almost anything they leave inside their vehicles can be valuable to a thief. And when vehicles are left unlocked and unattended, drivers are inviting thieves to walk away with everything they see inside, which often includes gifts, purses, wallets, packages, electronics, suitcases, garage door openers, keys, and personal information.
According to the Texas Department of Public Safety, thieves committed 221,230 acts of burglary, and stole 164,106 vehicles in Texas between January 2019 thru December 2020. In some jurisdictions, more than half of the vehicles stolen had unlocked doors and keys left inside. But drivers can avoid becoming part of these statistics. The MVCPA and its twenty-four vehicle-crime task forces in Texas promote a basic vehicle crime prevention philosophy: “Protect It, It’s Yours.” Motorists should practice three basic safety tips to help prevent theft and burglary during the holidays 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 areas that are well-lit, near surveillance cameras (if available), and near heavy foot and vehicle traffic. The more thieves feel threatened by detection, the less likely they are to focus on targets in such areas. The harder they have to work to get your stuff, the less chance they will choose your vehicle. After all, if they had any sense of work ethic, they would not be stealing.