January auto thefts and burglaries are down from last year

Julia Brouillette

Austin police statistics comparing January 2014 and January 2013 show auto thefts down 25 percent and burglaries down by 33 percent.

In general, vehicles are less likely to be stolen or broken into this time of year, according to APD Sgt. Felicia Williams.

“January is one of those months where numbers are lower — but, at the same time, the trends vary from year to year,” Williams said. “However, we do recognize trends during the summertime and around the holidays, when more people are out and about.”

Williams said she believes APD’s auto theft unit played a role in reducing burglaries through public education and taking proactive measures to prevent theft.

“People are changing their behaviors to prevent auto theft in where they’re parking,” Williams said. “[By] locking up their vehicles, they’re making diligent efforts to protect their vehicles.”

Williams said leaving keys inside the vehicle is one of the most common mistakes people make before their cars are stolen or burglarized.

“On average, in about 40 to 41 percent of auto thefts that our unit investigates every month, the key is either left in the ignition or somewhere in the vehicle,” Williams said.

Although APD listed Honda sedans and Ford pickup trucks as the most commonly stolen vehicles in 2013, Williams said thefts have more to do with possessions left in sight than the type of vehicle.

“Burglaries of vehicles occur because of what people have left in plain view that possible suspects can see,” Williams said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a car, a truck, a jeep or a convertible — if you left things of value or [things] the suspect believes are of value, they’re going to look at breaking into your vehicle to steal those things.”

Vehicles are rarely stolen on campus, according to UTPD crime statistics. UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey said UTPD did not receive any stolen vehicle reports in January, and only two auto burglaries were reported. Last year, only eight auto thefts were reported. 

Vehicle theft and break-ins are more frequent just outside of campus, with seven auto thefts and 23 auto burglaries reported in the West Campus area last month, according to APD’s incident database.

Biology junior Taylor Reddell said his pickup truck has been broken into twice over the course of a few months.

“Both times, my truck was in a parking garage, and, both times, it was locked, so I don’t know how they broke in,” Reddell said.

Reddell said he returned to his truck to find it cluttered but not damaged.

“I noticed a few items were missing, the first time,” Reddell said. “The second time, I was just missing a couple [phone] chargers.”

Reddell said the experience has made him more wary of leaving his belongings in his vehicle. 

“I feel like I just don’t keep anything in my truck now that’s valuable because you never know,” Reddell said.