Wichita Falls police say car burglaries increased in 2008

Wichita Falls_The Wichita Falls Police Department says car burglaries jumped by 300 from 2007 to 2008.  They say a lot of what thieves stole was used to pay for drugs, such as meth.  Police say they interviewed a former car burglar who claimed to have stolen $500,000 worth of property from 40 vehicles over the span of four years.  The department wants those numbers to decline, so they released the interview of the burglar's admission.

The female thief described how she chose her victims, and why she started burglarizing cars in the first place.  She said she would look for full parking lots, and check to see if vehicle doors were locked.  "I would look for ways to pay for my drug addiction," said the woman.  She said she wanted drugs, and car burglaries were easy money.  "A lot of times, you just walk around the parking lot, say Wal-Mart or the mall, and you check doors."

The woman said that unlocked doors and high-priced goodies left in the car made her crimes easier to commit.  "Tom-Toms, or laptops, or iPods - that was one of the three major things we always got," she said.  "You can get one on almost every major vehicle."

Deputy Chief of Police Gerald Todd says car thieves also are looking for identities to steal.  "If a vehicle's broken into and credit cards are stolen, then that can lead to other types of theft," he said.

The former burglar says she even stole someone's identity.  She said she would find someone's credit card, but had to act quickly before the credit card companies found out.  "I usually go straight to the gas pump and make sure it works, and then go to Wal-Mart," she said.  She said she also would get cash from stores such as Wal-Mart.  "At Wal Mart, you can go in there and get cash off the credit card, too - so that's good."

The woman says she has some advice for folks so they won't become victims - get a car alarm.  Thieves often check to see if cars have a flashing light inside that may indicate it has an alarm.  "When we see that, it scares us," she said.  "So, lock your doors and put a red thing on there - or even get an alarm."  She also advises drivers not to leave valuable items visible.  "There's a lot of thieves out there, so don't make anything visible," she said.  "Because if we see it. we're gonna get it."

The Wichita Falls Police Department says they will hand out cards and magnets to hotels, businesses, and people in residential areas, with the hope of significantly knocking the number of car burglaries down.  The department also says it plans to hold courses for the public about how to protect themselves from being a victim of a car burglary.