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Area auto burglaries on the rise

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

An up-tick in crimes of opportunity is starting to be noticed and felt by Lockhart residents.

Several times in the last weeks, Lockhart Police Department officers have taken reports of automobile burglaries, often in residential neighborhoods throughout Lockhart. Most of the burglaries show one common thread: often, the

burglaries occur and items are stolen from unsecured vehicles.

“Probably well over 70 percent [of reported car burglaries] are from vehicles that were left unlocked,” LPD Chief Mike Lummus said. “We very rarely have cars with broken out windows or pried locks.”

Lummus said simple safety measures, including locking cars when they are unattended, and not leaving valuable items in cars, could dramatically decrease those statistics.

“Even when there are no valuables left in the cars, if they are unlocked, the burglars are going through the cars for loose change, cell phone charger cords and dollar bills,” he said. “Just little things are taken because doors are unlocked.”

In addition to small items, officers have reported larger items, including cameras, computers and other electronic equipment being taken from unlocked vehicles. The chances of recovering such stolen property is rare, although it does happen, and the Lockhart Police Department has a cooperative effort with regional pawn shops, which are normally on the lookout for stolen items.

According to the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA), more than 250,000 instances of vehicle burglaries, up to and including theft of vehicles themselves, were reported last year. Those thefts totaled upwards of $184,000 in economic losses to Texas residents.

The ABTPA runs a variety of annual initiatives encouraging drivers to be more careful with their vehicles, including this year’s “Watch Your Car” program. Funded partially by state mandate and through grant programs, the ABTPA seeks to educate drivers on how to protect themselves from what is, in most cases, a preventable crime.

Central to those education programs is the idea of locking up, taking your keys and watching your car.

“It’s up to drivers to be proactive and follow the ABTPA’s advice to always hide any belongings, such as store purchases, purses and portable music players or GPS units, lock the car and take the keys,” Galveston Auto Crimes Task Force member Tommy Hansen said during a ABTPA summit in Galveston on Monday. He said law enforcement would always investigate such crimes, but encouraged Texans to do their part to protect their vehicles from burglary and theft.

It only takes a thief a short time to break into a car and steal it, or the driver’s belongings, Hansen said. That time is even shorter when the job is made easy for thieves, who often have to do no more than try a door handle in a parking lot to hit pay dirt.

If you are the victim of a crime or have information on a crime, contact the Lockhart Police Department at (512) 398-4401, or the Caldwell County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 398-6777. If you believe you see a crime taking place, dial 9-1-1.

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