Variations of GMC, Ford truck models are 'prime target' for auto thefts, Houston police warn

Mycah Hatfield Image
Saturday, January 7, 2023
Silverados, Sierras 'prime target' for thieves in Houston, HPD says
"That truck is not safe no matter what," one man said after his GMC truck, which he'd only had for a few months, was stolen right from his job's parking lot.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- At least 40 cars are stolen a day in the city of Houston, according to Houston Police Department's Auto Theft Sgt. Tracy Hicks.

Hicks says more often than not, Chevy Silverado and GMC Sierra trucks are being stolen.

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According to statistics from HPD, 1,253 Silverado trucks were stolen from January 2022 to June 2022, followed by 540 Sierras and 315 Ford F-150s.

"I'm telling you this from the heart, if you've got a GMC or Chevy truck, you've got to do more. You can't just cross your fingers. We are past that," Hicks said.

He also drives a GMC truck himself.

Hicks said the thieves are dialed in on how to steal the 2017 to 2021 Chevy and GMC models and can do it without breaking the glass.

"They can steal them within minutes. Literally two-three minutes tops," he said.

He includes GMC Yukon, Chevy Tahoe, Suburban, and Cadillac Escalades as part of the vulnerable groups.

"I can take the engines, especially out of any of those from a '17 to a '21, and put them in anything," Hicks said. "The fenders, the tailgates, the parts can be used on any vehicle."

He said the parts are valuable because there are so many of those cars on the road.

Statistics show that in the first six months of 2022, 185 Tahoe SUVs, at least 46 Yukon SUVs, and at least 28 Suburban SUVs were stolen in the city.

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"If you own a GMC truck, or any Chevrolet truck, in the Houston metropolitan area, that truck is not safe no matter what," Jeremy Olivarez, who fell victim to auto theft, said.

Olivarez only had his GMC Sierra truck for five months when it was stolen from his job's secure parking garage in Tanglewood.

He said he got a notice from OnStar letting him know his truck had been stolen, and a minute later, when he got to the garage it was gone.

"To walk outside (and) see your vehicle not where you parked it is very upsetting," Olivarez said. "Your day, week, month, even your year goes bad. It's a lot of money you lose."

He said the thieves disabled his OnStar immediately, so the truck could not be located.

Olivarez called the police, but his truck was never seen again.

"They said it was a very common situation and that you're not the first and probably won't be the last," he recalled.

Hicks did not want to give away the method thieves use to steal the trucks but said a mechanic will be aware and can offer specific ways to protect your vehicle from being vulnerable to that particular scheme.

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"We need to look at upgrading alarms," Hicks said. "Trackers are cheap. Get a tracker. Steering wheel locks. Go old school. Back in the 80s, we all put a club on our steering wheel. We need to layer the approach and use more than one."

He said the odds of getting your car back depended on what the thieves did with it. Hicks said they are not stealing these newer model cars to commit crimes. Instead, they are selling them in some cases.

"You go to register it and that's when you find out," Hicks said. "Then you realize you're out all that cash you paid for it."

He suggested if you are buying a used car, check to make sure the physical key works to open the door or tailgate. He said that even if there is a key fob, use the metal key. That is a way to verify if the fob has been reprogrammed and you are purchasing a stolen vehicle.

Hicks said your best chance of getting your stolen car back is if it is stolen.

In other cases, thieves are breaking the cars down for parts. Currently at the HPD impound lot where cars involved in cars or stolen vehicles are taken, there is the frame of an Escalade and the shell of a truck. Both are unrecognizable.

Hicks said they typically find those stripped-down cars in barns or fields.

"If you have a GMC or Chevy product, I am telling you right now it's a matter of time," Hicks said.

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