APD reminds shoppers how to crack down on car crime - KSWO, Lawton, OK- Wichita Falls, TX: News, Weather, Sports. ABC, 24/7, Telemundo -

APD reminds shoppers how to crack down on car crime

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It's the last weekend before Christmas and shoppers are out in full force, making public parking lots an easy target for auto burglars.

But according to Amarillo police, auto burglaries are actually down right now, uncommon for this time of year.  However, that doesn't mean folks should be less wary of it happening to them because there's something else crooks are after, and it's not your gifts.

Some 1,700 cars have been broken into in Amarillo this year and if Christmas shoppers aren't careful, that number could climb.

"Common sense would seem to say it's more likely to happen around Christmas because if you look at the number of cars on the road," said Sgt. Brent Barbee with the Amarillo Police Department.

So what do most of us do? Hide things.

"The way I've been raised if I get something expensive, I always hide it in some form or fashion," said Amarillo shopper Charlie Beedy. "Whether it's under a chair or I put a blanket on top of it, something."

But too often, criminals have already guessed where you've hidden those gifts -- under the seat, in the console or in the trunk -- and with only a window of glass separating them from it, they're likely to take the risk.

"I've even heard the investigators talk about the auto burglars suspects that they've interviewed that have told them, if a woman gets out of a car and her purse is not on her arm, it's under the seat," explained Sgt. Barbee. "When you think about it, that's just the common natural thing to do.

About 20 percent of the time, those crooks aren't even after your Christmas gifts. They're after your purse, your laptop, anything with personal information that could be used to steal your identity.

"So often the items taken in auto burglaries are used for identity theft, fraud, forgery, etc," said Sgt. Barbee.

A lesson no one wants to learn the hard way.

"By far the safer thing to do is empty your car," said Barbee. "Take your things with you."

"You don't think it can, but it can happen anywhere," added Beedy.

Sgt. Barbee recommended if you do temporarily hide something in your trunk, deactivate any kind of remote trunk release you have just in case.

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