AUSTIN, TX – State officials are urging residents in Texas – where nearly 77,000 vehicles were stolen and another 200,000 burglarized las years – to safeguard their cars during the holiday season.

In an advisory issued Wednesday, the Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority alerted residents of “staggering” losses in Texas – nearly $1.5 billion (1,500,000,000) – blamed on car thefts and burglaries. The crime scourge spikes during the holiday season ushered in by Thanksgiving Day, official noted.

“Protect your investment,” Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority Chairman and Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Tommy Hansen said in a prepared statement. “Over 80 percent of communities that have a motor vehicle theft task force funded by MVCPA reported that keys left in cars and cars unlocked were the major contributors of these crimes.”

Stolen cars in Texas often disappear across the U.S. – Mexico border out of the ports or end up at local, illegal “chop shops” every day, officials said, and moto vehicle theft would plummet if people did not leave their cars unlocked or leave their keys in their car. Many thieves use stolen vehicles for nefarious criminal activities, such as human trafficking, drug smuggling, and robbery, according to the agency.

MVCPA reminds Texans: If You Like It – Lock It. Locking your car is the most effective way to prevent burglary of your car. Remember to take or hide your things. Many law enforcement agencies say criminals are targeting vehicles in neighborhoods and parking lots likely to contain weapons or credit cards, which are the top priority for quick money from burglary. Don’t go willingly down “Victim Lane.” Follow these steps for a safe and secure holiday:

  • Lock your vehicle and take your keys
  • Never hide a second set of keys in or on your vehicle. Thieves can find these easily.
  • Park in well-lighted areas or attended lots.
  • Never leave your vehicle running unattended, even if you will only be away for a moment.
  • Don’t leave documents with important person details in your vehicle.
  • Park with your wheels turned toward the curb and use your emergency brake, making your vehicle harder to tow away. Wheels should also be turned to the side in driveways and parking lots.
  • If you have a garage, use it. Lock your garage as well as your vehicle doors. Your vehicle may be more vulnerable when you park outside.
  • Consider after-market theft prevention devices compatible with the manufacturer’s recommendations.

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