Auto theft prevention

Lori Hardin, Travis County Sheriff's Office public awareness coordinator, and Mike Morton, detective with the Travis County Sheriff's Office Combined Auto Theft Task Force, share hints on preventing auto thefts.

Senior citizens learned how to protect themselves from car theft in a program presented by the Travis County Sheriff’s Office Combined Auto Theft Task Force on May 16 at the Harker Heights Recreation Center.

Public awareness of auto theft is a high priority of the task force, which encompasses Bell County and 16 other Central and South Texas counties.

Detective Mike Morton and Lori Hardin, public awareness coordinator, said Texas has 28 task forces run by nine agents. Most are stationed along the I-35 corridor and work jointly with the Heart of Texas Task Force and others in the San Antonio and Houston areas.

The agents help law enforcement agencies recover stolen vehicles and enforce auto theft laws.

The top 10 stolen vehicles in Texas in April were Ford pickups, GM pickups, Dodge pickups, the Ford Taurus, Chevy Tahoe and Malibu, Honda Civic and Accord, and the Toyota Camry and Corolla, Morton said. There were 2,489 pickup thefts and 1,954 car thefts in April. Motorcycle thefts totaled 348.

Registration documents and insurance cards were at the top of the list of ways car thieves steal vehicles. Martin and Hardin said drivers are not required to carry registration papers and insurance cards in their vehicles, as law enforcement officers can use computers in their patrol cars to confirm the status of insurance coverage.

“I didn’t know about the registration and insurance card issue,” Susan Geddie said. “I need to do some research with our police department because I’d like to know how that applies locally.”

The key elements to avoid car theft are to never leave your keys unattended in the car and always make sure your doors are locked, according to the task force.

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