HPD reminds citizens of car-theft dangers, provides prevention tips

The Houston Police Department is reminding motorists that it doesn’t matter what kind of car you drive, all vehicles are a potential target of theft.

“Auto theft is a completely preventable crime if motorists would follow three simple steps; hide your valuables, lock your car and take your keys.” HPD Officer J. Woods of the Auto Theft Division said, “The simplest things left in plain view, such as cell phone charging cords, loose change, or a laptop bag are very inviting and leave you vulnerable to have not only your car burglarized, but also stolen.”

In 2013, there were 13,595 stolen vehicles reported to HPD.

A few prevention tips to avoid becoming a victim of auto theft are:

  • Take your keys and never leave a second set in your vehicle. Twenty percent of stolen vehicles had keys inside them, making the theft even easier.
  • Lock your car. Almost half of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.
  • Park in well-lit or heavily-trafficked areas. Thieves do not like witnesses. Find an attended lot or garage, if possible.
  • Give parking attendants the ignition key only. Keep your trunk and glove box locked at all times. If possible, get separate keys for the ignition, the trunk and glove box.
  • Never leave your car running unattended. Cars are often stolen at convenience stores, gas stations or when an owner leaves the vehicle running to warm it up.
  • Install an anti-theft device. Many insurance companies may give you a discount for certain anti-theft devices. Check with your agent for details.

Nearly 65,000 cars and trucks are stolen in the state of Texas each year and thousands more are burglarized. One in every five vehicles stolen is a pickup truck.

If your car is stolen, immediately call the police and file a police report. Make sure you provide your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to help law enforcement agencies locate your vehicle if it has been stolen. If you do not have your VIN number readily available, contact your insurance company or financial lender.

Remember to report the theft or burglary to your insurance provider. Even if the loss is not covered, reporting the crime will protect you if the vehicle causes harm to others after being stolen. If possible, have the vehicle’s title, the location of all keys before the theft, a thorough description of the vehicle and any personal property stolen with the vehicle. Also, contact your financial institution if the vehicle is leased or still being financed.

For more information on auto theft prevention, visit www.txdmv.gov/motorists/consumer-protection/auto-theft-prevention or contact the HPD Auto Theft Division at 713-308-3500.