We rely on our cars everyday to get us to where we need to go. But what if your primary mode of transportation suddenly disappears?
According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau's Annual Report, car thefts and burglaries are on the rise again following an eight-year decline. July and August mark the top two months for auto theft due to many people taking long summer vacations or leaving their cars in unsuspecting areas.
Statistics show that a motor vehicle is stolen or broken into every 44 seconds in the United States. In Texas, a study done by Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority shows that a vehicle is stolen every 8 minutes and burglarized every 2 minutes in Texas.
The Wichita Falls Police Department is doing everything they can to warn Texomans of this growing problem. Sergeant John Spragins of WFPD says car owners are often leaving their valuables laying out on in their cars, something they should never do.
"If we walk through the parking lot and we just look into the vehicles, you're gonna see valuables everywhere. How long does it take to break a window, grab that and walk away?" said Spragins.
Some people often run into a grocery store leaving their cars unlocked, or keep the keys in the ignition with the car running. Not only are entire vehicles being stolen, crooks are breaking into cars stealing anything of value such as stereos, GPS', laptops and purses.
When a car is reporter stolen, the WFPD keeps an active stolen vehicle list and uses a license plate reader to locate the vehicle.
In order to reduce your chances of becoming an auto theft victim, Spragins says it's all about following some simple steps.
"Remove your belongings, take your keys with you and lock your car. Those are huge things that definitely impact how many vehicles get burglarized or stolen. It's all about being preventive and taking the opportunity away from the bad guys" he said.
Wichita Falls currently ranks #150 in the nation's list of top cities with the most car thefts. The city had over 271 cars stolen in 2012. Trucks and SUV's are the most common targets with the Ford F-250 crew pick-up ranking the most stolen vehicle in the nation.
In order to help prevent auto theft, the WFPD is offering a free etching service on July 27th at the Nissan Dealership on Kell Blvd. Drivers can get their car vehicle identification numbers (VIN) etched in to the windows of their vehicle at no cost. More information is available on the WFPD website http://www.wichitafallstx.gov/?NID=17 or they can be reached by phone at (940) 761-7732.