APD warns public about uptick in car thefts

A man was caught on a surveillance camera approaching and trying the handle of an SUV parked in a Zilker neighborhood carport last Thursday night and Austin police say situations like it have become too common.

"We know throughout Austin it's on the rise,” said Austin police officer Destiny Silva.

The owner of the SUV did have the car locked, however APD says one of the reasons they've seen an uptick in car thefts is because of careless drivers, which spells an opportunity for many criminals.

"If you're getting in and out of your car really quickly, some people will leave their purse up there in the front seat,” Silva said. “Even if you’re just running in, take the items with you, turn off your car and lock it."

According to APD, 220 auto thefts were reported in March 2018. This March, there were 227 reported thefts, a six percent increase. 

Police have since taken steps in warning the public. 

"We want to remind you to remain vigilant but more and more people are moving into Austin and there's more that's accessible so be mindful so this doesn't happen to you,” Silva said.

Police say it's easier than ever to drive off with someone else's car. All thieves need to do is find an unlocked car or one where the driver has left the key inside, push the start button and hit the gas. APD says 83 percent of thefts come from people leaving their keys in the car.

Officials say certain makes and models of cars are easier to break into and steal than others and older cars are usually an easier target because there are less security measures to stop thieves. 

There are easy ways to prevent car thefts, according to APD, starting with double checking that the doors are locked before walking away. APD also reminds people to never leave their car running and unattended and leave valuables in plain sight.

"You don't want to be in a parking lot putting in your valuables because you never know who could be watching you and waiting for you to get away from your vehicle,” Silva said.

According to APD, taking these measures will help avoid becoming a target for these types of crimes.