The Texas ABTPA, an office of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, has funded law enforcement programs specializing in vehicle crime investigation, recovery, prevention and prosecution since 1991. Since then, Texas has seen a 61 percent reduction in the vehicle theft total. Currently, ABTPA funds 29 task force grant programs statewide, allowing over 150 law enforcement officers throughout Texas to focus exclusively on the resolution of vehicle crime cases.
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).
ABTPA offers these vehicle theft-prevention 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.