Welcome to "Watch Your Car Month" -- and, no, we're not referring to this. Not exactly. But this morning at 10 at the Dallas Police Department Auto Pound on Vilbig Street, officials from several local auto-theft task forces will gather 'round stripped and recovered cars -- and a working one made entirely of stolen parts, how Memphis Raines -- to make the case that most high-speed car chases, this week's excepted, stem from auto thefts. Officials say a car's stolen every five minutes in Texas.
"How often do you turn on the news and hear about a car chase involving a stolen vehicle?" asks Michelle Lanham, the program manager for Reduce Auto Theft in Texas, part of the University of North Texas Caruth Police Institute, a partnership with the Dallas Police Department. "Would you say that's once a week? Yeah. These are high-speed chases in many cases. These are instances where criminals are trying to get away with the stolen vehicle. It creates a whole safety concern for the public in general."
Lanham's agency is one of 29 that applied for and received grants this year from the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority (ABTPA), an office of the Texas Department of Transportation. (ABTPA is also funded by auto insurance companies throughout Texas.) In 1991, the stolen vehicle rate in Texas reached an all-time high of 163,837 vehicles stolen. In 2007, that dropped to 94,026.
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After the jump, another increasingly popular reason why cars are being stolen. Also: the top five most-stolen vehicles in Texas:
In the Dallas-Fort Worth area, Lanham says, thieves are increasingly stealing cars with the intent of swiping your identity. (If cars are being stolen every five minutes, stats show they're being burgalized every two.) A thief may use your insurance papers and your garage-door opener to locate your address, then get inside your home in order to lift blank checks and your Social Security number. In South Texas, she says, drug cartels are stealing vehicles to traffic drugs, even humans.
Be especially vigilant if you happen to drive one of these:
- Ford pick-up (F150, F250, F350)
- Chevrolet pick-up (Silverado)
- Dodge pick-up (Ram)
- Honda Civic
- Honda Accord