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July: Watch Your Car Month

By BJ Austin, KERA News

http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/kera/local-kera-846864.mp3

Dallas, TX – It only takes about 15 seconds to burglarize a car and just a few seconds more to STEAL it, according to the Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority. KERA's BJ Austin says police task forces across the state are launching auto-crime prevention campaigns this month.

Officers working several North Texas auto theft task forces gathered at the city of Dallas Auto Pound to kick off the month of July.

Benitez: What we're here basically to do is spread a message of crime prevention. July is Watch Your Car Month in Texas.

That's Dallas Police Sgt. Robert Benitez, who says a car is stolen in Texas every five-and-a-half minutes. The top five stolen vehicles are:

Benitez: Ford pickup is number one, Chevy's two, Dodge pickup number three, Honda Civic and then Accord.

The Sergeant says most of the cars are stolen and stripped for their parts. He says professional car thieves can do that in a matter of three to five minutes!

Task Force investigators say a car is burglarized every two and a half minutes in Texas, and there are some things to do to avoid being a victim. Lock the car, take or hide valuables. They say GPS devices are hottest car burglary items. Police say a GPS mounted on the windshield is an invitation to break into your car. To prevent car theft, officers say alarms can work especially with a kill switch to prevent the car from starting. But, Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force Detective Tyler Farrell says there's another important component to that.

Tyler: Set your alarm. Pay attention to it. If it goes off, check on your vehicle. People get comfortable hearing car alarms, so they don't really check on their cars anymore.

Car theft is down 19% in Tarrant County from a year ago: 24% in the city of Dallas. Police say they're stressing the success of prevention programs this Watch Your Car Month.

Email BJ Austin