Where are most car break-ins?

HOUSTON We're putting our exclusive Crime Tracker to work, showing you where your vehicle is most likely to be broken into.

Getting caught in the holiday shopping rush is easy to do. Things get so hectic, often times we end up sacrificing our personal safety without even realizing it. But there is a way to beat the bad guys at their own game. It requires you to start thinking like one.

With the holiday shopping season in full swing...

Shopper Debbie Kallina says, "There's so many criminals out there who want stuff that doesn't belong to them. This is mine."

She's right. More people shopping and more vehicles parked in parking lots means more potential victims.

"I think any retail environment, you are vulnerable," said shopper Howard Sims.

You're vulnerable because shoppers, especially this time of year, tend to be in a hurry. While you might be in a rush, police say, thieves are not.

"While you are shopping, they are out shopping," said Lt. Steve Phares with the Houston Police Department. "They are shopping the parking lots. The thief is always thinking, when is my advantage coming."

We put our exclusive Crime Tracker to work to see where your vehicle is most likely to be broken into during the holiday shopping season. Here's what we found:

  1. Apartment parking lots
  2. Driveways
  3. Restaurant parking
  4. Steet/Sidewalks
  5. Hotels/motels
  6. Commercial/Garage
  7. Strip center
  8. Other/Unknown
  9. Bar/Night Club
  10. Supermarkets
  11. Shopping malls
"I try to hide things as best I can," said shopper Phyllis Wiese. "I put them under the seat or put something on top of them."

While hiding your merchandise sounds like a good idea, there's still no guarantee. All a thief has to do is break a window and pop the trunk.

"It's happened before and it could happen again," said Sims.

Veteran shopper Shon Poteet has another suggestion.

"I have my husband come out and meet me to take it home," she said.

Meantime, police on Houston's northwest side are working overtime, targeting shopping areas up and down the Northwest Freeway, hoping to curb the number of vehicle break-ins, a plan that includes using marked patrol cars and undercover surveillance.

Police say if you think like a thief, you'll start taking preventive measures, which could ultimately reduce your chances of becoming a victim.

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