Vehicle burglaries have spiked 23.5 percent since the school year ended, Texarkana, Texas, police said. The increase in burglaries and thefts is typical during the summer—long summer days mean more people are out later and some are tempted by unlocked vehicles.
Vehicle break-ins only take a few minuteseven less when the car is left unlocked, or when thieves smash windows. Criminals will often drive though parking lots or neighborhoods looking for vehicles with open windows or unlocked doors.
In about 80 percent of vehicle burglaries, the vehicles are left unlocked, said Texarkana, Texas, Police Spokesman Shawn Vaughn.
"Locking your vehicle is the best defense," he said.
Police also encourage residents to remove valuable items from the vehicle.
"If an item is visible, there is somebody who is going to think they need it more than you. They are going to grab what is in the vehicle—whether that be 13 cents in the change cup or a gun," Vaughn said.
The Texarkana, Ark., Police Department recently responded to the area of Oak Hollow Place after a 911 caller said he saw a group of males looking in vehicles.
During this time, TAPD began to receive several 911 calls of vehicle burglary and theft from the area of where the incident began in the Woodline Addition.
Five juveniles between the ages of 15 and 17 were arrested. All of them were charged with eight counts of vehicle burglary and property theft.
"In every one of these cases, the vehicles were left unlocked. We are asking that all of our citizens become persistent in locking their vehicles," said Cpl. Kristi Bennett, TAPD spokeswoman.
Police urge residents to call 911 immediately if they hear any type of activity that sounds suspicious or unusual.
"We ask that you don't attempt to investigate, but just to call 911 immediately," Bennett said.
Residents should also be aware that vehicle break-ins commonly lead to other crimes such as fraud and identity theft, so limit the amount of personal information you keep inside your vehicle. Record serial numbers of your valuables and keep them in a safe place (not inside your vehicle).