If motorists aren’t careful, some of the best deals on Black Friday won’t even be inside the store – they’ll be sitting right out front in the parking lot.
“Increased holiday crowds represent an irresistible target for criminals,” said Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA) Board Chairman and Galveston County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant Tommy Hansen. “Making a habit of following these simple crime prevention tips now can benefit you year-round.”
ABTPA, a division of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, offers these simple precautions to combat theft and keep your holiday shopping season joyous.
Five keys to protecting your vehicle while shopping
1. Hide your valuables from plain sight. This holiday season is already looking like it could be a cold one, so it may be wise to pack a blanket, which can also provide a great cover for gifts when you aren’t able to get home quickly with your purchases. Another tip that’s often overlooked: keep your cell phone cords and other device accessories out of sight. Burglars are willing to break a window or try a door when they see a cord because there’s a chance that a device will be in the vehicle.
2. Park in well-lighted areas or attended lots. Car thieves and burglars use the cover of night to avoid witnesses and detection. The same goes for unattended parking lots. If you have to do your shopping after the sun goes down, be sure to park in a well-lighted area. Be aware of your surroundings. If you’re alone and it’s late, consider asking the store security to accompany you to your parked vehicle.
3. Don’t leave sensitive documents in your car. A car burglar may take your sensitive information to commit identity fraud. Instead of keeping this in the glove compartment of your vehicle, keep it in your wallet or purse.
4. Never leave your car running while unattended, even if you’ll only be gone for a minute. Vehicles are commonly stolen at convenience stores, gas stations, ATMs, etc. Many vehicles are also stolen on cold mornings when they are left unattended to warm up. Leaving your key in an unattended motor vehicle is a crime in Texas.
5. Lock your vehicle. While it’s the most obvious bit of advice, reports from specialized auto theft investigators indicate that far too many motorists forget to lock their vehicles. In some areas, investigators report that around half of burglaries and thefts are directly attributed to unlocked vehicles.
For more information about how to protect yourself, visit ABTPA online at www.txdmv.gov/about-us/ABTPA.