Car thefts and burglaries on the rise in Austin

Hide your valuables, lock your car doors and take the keys with you. That's the message from Austin police after a rise in both car thefts and break-ins.

This month, more than 100 cars have been reported stolen and more than 600 have been burglarized. APD said with the rise in population in Austin they see more of these types of crimes. With the holidays upon us they are urging people to be aware.

Five minutes is all it took for an Austin mom to get her car broken into.

“They broke my window, the door was locked, whenever I got back to my vehicle so they smashed the window, reached in. My bag was on the rear floor board and they took that,” said a recent victim, who wants to remain anonymous.

She tells us she locked her car in a school parking lot and walked with her kid inside.

“Just felt shock and by the time I got back to my car to walk into the school I was in tears what I had stolen was a 10-year anniversary gift this year so it's more of a sentimental loss then anything,” said the victim.

So far this month there have been 600 reported burglaries from vehicles in Austin. This is almost 200 more for the entire month of November last year.

“If you're buying a bunch for gifts, if you're going from one store to another, remember to put them in the trunk, lock the trunk or take them home if you have the opportunity. Just leaving nothing in plain sight,” said Natalia Lee with the APD auto theft neighborhood liaison.

Lee said it's not just car burglaries on the rise but also car thefts.

“Rampant and it's not just one area of the city, it's all over,” said Lee.

From the beginning of this year to the end of October 2,145 cars were reported stolen. This is 24 percent more than the number stolen last year in the same time frame. In over 80 percent of auto theft cases in Austin, APD reported the cars were unlocked and of those total cases a little less than half the keys were left inside.

In some cases, car burglaries can lead to the car getting stolen.

“We've seen cases of car burglaries where someone gets into an unlocked car, maybe they are taking a backpack or something out of the console and then they find a key and then they take the car,” said Lee.

According to APD the southwest part of Austin had the most car thefts reported at 330 since the beginning of the year, while downtown Austin had the least at 110. All other areas were around 200.

“With cold weather, folks like to leave their car running in their drive way warming it up. We have literal footage of people doing that for two seconds and someone getting in there,” said Lee.

When leaving your car, no matter how long you'll be gone, APD said lock up.

APD said on average in over half of auto theft cases they are able to recover and return the vehicles.
When going shopping for the holidays remember to be aware of your surroundings and hide your valuables.