July 05--PALESTINE -- July is "Watch Your Car" month throughout Texas, and state officials are encouraging citizens to use some common sense steps to protect themselves from becoming a victim.
A new statewide campaign launched this week by the Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority is attempting to educate and equip Texas drivers as such offenses tend to spike during July and August.
Although respondents to a recent poll indicated they were more concerned about identity theft and residential burglaries, statistics show that they are 123 percent more likely to become a victim of auto crime, according to the ABTPA.
"Auto crime occurs every two minutes in Texas, and the Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority is committed to helping drivers reduce the likelihood they will become a victim," said Charles Caldwell, ABTPA director. "The 'Think Like a Thief' campaign is launching during July when Texas drivers are more likely to make mistakes that can lead to auto crime."
Some of the common misperceptions regarding auto crime, according to the recent poll, include that most people view such offenses as an individual crime of opportunity, although statistics show it is most often an organized group effort. Also, 58 percent of poll respondents mistakenly stated that auto crime most often occurs overnight.
Some important insights about auto crime, according to the ABTPA, include:
--Because of the heat, Texas drivers are more likely to leave vehicles running during the summer when making quick stops. However, vehicles can be stolen in as little as 15 seconds.
-- Auto criminals often work in pairs or groups, with a lookout who notifies team members when cars are left running, unlocked or with valuables in plain sight.
-- No driver is immune to auto crime. Drivers are vulnerable to auto crime no matter where they live, work, shop or socialize.
-- Hiding valuables, locking the car and taking the keys are the basic steps all drivers can easily follow in order to avoid to becoming a victim.
-- Auto crime often occurs during the day in large parking lots of popular public venues.
-- and auto crime is a gateway crime, often leading to other crimes such as home burglary, insurance fraud, identity theft, drug smuggling, robbery, terrorism and gang-related crimes.
The ABTPA supports a statewide network through grants, theft reduction initiatives and public education. Since its inception in 1991, the ABTPA has funded and managed more than 500 grants, helping reduce motor vehicle theft by 70 percent.
For more information on ABTPA, visit www.txwatchyourcar.com or call 512-374-5101.
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