AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Austin Police Department is reminding West Campus neighbors to protect their cars and homes after a string of burglaries. The spike is happening in the West Campus/Central West area of town. In the last month, there have been 18 cars burglary cases, nine home break-ins and seven people who had their cars stolen. Authorities say that in almost all cases, the thieves got into cars or homes that were left unlocked. However, that’s not the case with Hannah Steel.
“They took it all. They took the whole purse,” said Steel. “It looks like they broke it with their elbow, because there was a circular dent; looks like they smashed it in.”
Her car was broken into in a secure parking garage where she lives. That was just the beginning. In her purse were the keys to her friend’s Infiniti car, which the suspect drove off with. Police found the car days later in an Austin apartment complex.
“The car was all dinged up; there wasn’t a single body piece that didn’t have dings or scratches. Inside, they stole the volume knobs, ash tray. Clearly, had been smoking in car, McDonalds trash in car,” she said. “He works so hard to be able to afford nice things, and it was just taken away by someone who clearly doesn’t deserve it.”
Steel hopes surveillance footage in the parking garage, as well as at a Valero gas station, will help police put the pieces together. In other incidents, thieves targeted high-end cars — such as BMWs. Officers will be making extra patrols in that area, and people living there are asked to report any suspicious activity by calling 911.
APD recommends taking these precautions to protect your property:
- Lock your car, and do not leave your keys in the car. Don’t make it easier for a thief to enter your car.
- Park in well-lit areas. More than half of all car thefts happen at night
- Don’t leave valuables in plain view. Don’t make your car a more desirable target and attract thieves by leaving valuables in plain sight.
- If you are going to hide valuables in trunks or rear compartments, try to do so before arriving at your destination. Thieves watch for people to hide valuables (such as purses, laptops, etc.) in their trunks and tend to target those cars.
- Never leave your car running, even if you will only be gone for a minute. In Texas, leaving your key in an unattended car is a crime.
- At home, lock your doors and windows. Leaving doors open makes it easier for criminals to enter.
- Consider leaving an outside light on to deter thieves.