Tips to keep car burglars away

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- You've heard it a thousand times. To prevent someone from breaking into your car, don't leave valuables in plain sight. However, most of us still do it thinking, "It'll never happen to me." Here's why officers say you should think again.

Houston police were already scoping out a parking lot on Upper Kirby when someone broke into Mary Claire Boyce's SUV.

"We didn't know what was going on. We realized it was our vehicle that got broken into. They caught the guy. We saw him get handcuffed," she says.

It was a Thursday. It was also broad daylight. The officer on-scene said break-ins are "usually during the weekdays, during lunch hour."

However, Sergeant Chris Moore with the Harris County Sheriff's Office says also keep in mind the time of the year.

"End of the month, holidays -- that tends to increase crime," he says.

Another peak time is during extended school breaks and summer vacation, when juveniles could be bored.

The good news is car break-ins are one of the most preventable crimes because they're crimes of opportunity.

"They walk by and see something that catches their eye. Someone might not be thinking of breaking into your car; you're enticing them at that point and they might very well do it, even if they hadn't intended to when they walked up," explains Sgt. Moore.

Thieves also take the "path of least resistance."

"If we had identical cars and my car was parked in a well-lit area and you had an identical car that was parked 3-4 houses down in an empty cul-de-sac, which car do you think a criminal would go to?" Sgt. Moore said.

And there's one final reminder from Sgt. Moore.

"Cars are going to be broken into, but if you can make your vehicle less opportunistic to the criminal, maybe it'll stop it from happening to you," he said.

National Insurance Crime Bureau Hot Wheels Report (August 2015)

Top 10 most stolen vehicles in Texas:
Rank -- Make/Model -- Year Most Stolen -- # of Thefts

    1. Ford Pick-Up (Full Size) -- 2006 -- 8,102
    2. Chevrolet Pick-Up (Full Size) -- 2005 -- 5,900
    3. Dodge Pick-Up (Full Size) -- 2004 -- 3,169
    4. Honda Civic -- 2000 -- 1,987
    5. Honda Accord -- 1997 -- 1,785
    6. GMC Pick-Up (Full Size) -- 2005 -- 1,472
    7. Chevrolet Tahoe -- 2002 -- 1,104
    8. Chevrolet Impala -- 2005 -- 924
    9. Toyota Camry -- 2014 -- 905
    10. Chevrolet Pick-Up (Small Size) -- 1999 -- 878

2014 Most stolen vehicles in the US:
    1. Honda Accord-51,290
    2. Honda Civic-43,936
    3. Ford Pickup (Full Size)-28,680
    4. Chevrolet Pickup (Full Size)-23,196
    5. Toyota Camry-14,605
    6. Dodge Pickup (Full Size)-11,075
    7. Dodge Caravan-10,483
    8. Nissan Altima-9,109
    9. Acura Integra-6,902
    10. Nissan Maxima-6,586

Tips to prevent Car Break-ins:
  • Many criminals simply walk through parking lots to see if anything catches their eye to steal. Don't leave anything in plain sight.

  • Break-ins can happen in less than 30 seconds. Even if you'll "just be a second" you can still be a victim.

  • Sometime a little blinking light that replicates a car security system (sold at some automotive stores) can deter a crook.

  • Many criminals won't take the time to pop the trunk once they're in the car, but don't count on it.

  • Always park in well-lit areas or near motion sensor lights. Some say light is a criminal's enemy.

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