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APD Expecting Car Burglary Increase, Ramping Up Enforcement
As stores see a huge spike in shoppers this Black Friday weekend, Austin police are bracing for a large spike in property crime, especially car thefts and burglaries. Now they’re hoping one crime-fighting program will give those shoppers most at risk a wakeup call and beat thieves to the punch
Senior Police Officer Joshua Visi of APD is spending Thanksgiving weekend at the Barton Creek Square Mall parking lot, going row to row inspecting cars, then giving drivers a card resembling a parking ticket that shows them what the officer spotted and what they should change to make themselves less vulnerable to car theft or burglaries. It’s designed to try to quell the spike in break-ins officers see around the holidays, fueled, they say, by more people hitting more stores and leaving more valuables in plain sight.
"There will probably be close to 2,000 of these issued today," said Sr. Ofc. Visi, of the cards.
Visi says thieves typically target the more affluent areas of town, with SUVs, Jeeps, minivans, and hatchbacks at risk because of visible trunk space.
"They'll actually pick out several cars, and then do several cars in succession very very quickly,” said Sr. Ofc. Visi, on thieves’ methods. "They also use the vehicle to obscure their movements. They'd pull the car right up here, so now I’ve screened myself off from all the traffic behind me.”
Sr. Ofc. Visi says movie theatre parking lots, parking garages, and apartment complexes are also favorite targets, and added that employees are especially at risk because they typically park farther away from the store entrance and leave their car alone for hours at a time.
Officers say if you aren’t able to put valuables in the trunk, they recommend taking those items home and coming back, having a friend watch them, or covering them with an old blanket, quilt, or towel.
From Thanksgiving weekend through the New Year, officers will be inspecting cars at several area malls, shopping centers, and busy stores.
For more information on preventing burglary theft: http://www.austintexas.gov/department/auto-theft