APD: Auto thefts increase in West Campus

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Photo Credit: Caleb Kuntz | Daily Texan Staff

West Campus auto thefts have increased because of students leaving their cars unlocked, according to the Austin Police Department.

According to APD officers, students can help prevent auto thefts by doing two simple things: locking their cars and taking their keys with them.

APD reported an increase in the number of car thefts since the semester began. APD officer Veneza Bremner said the department recorded six separate thefts, most of which took place overnight. 

Bremner said the break-ins occurred while cars were parked on streets or in garages, but students should always remember to lock their cars and take their keys when they leave.

“Remember where you park,” Bremner said. “Take your keys. Lock your car. Hide any valuables. Take your keys. … Yes, that is in there twice. Historically, around 50 percent of all car thefts where the location of keys can be determined are stolen because the victim left keys in the car.”

Economics sophomore Alyson Chandler said people stole her auxiliary cable and phone charger from her car while it was parked outside her apartment complex.

“They totally trashed my car,” Chandler said. “They turned it upside down and made a mess.”

Chandler said her car was unlocked at the time of the break-in.

“I don’t usually lock it when I’m parked at home [for] convenience,” Chandler said. “If I need to grab something, I don’t have to take my keys.”

Chandler said she tries not to keep anything valuable in her car but still keeps her car unlocked.

Ryan Ward, management information systems senior, said he locked his truck doors but that didn’t stop thieves from stealing his Kindle and iPod. Ward said he makes sure to take more precautions when parking his truck.

“I make sure not to leave anything in my truck,” Ward said. “I also made it a priority that my next apartment would have a gate on our parking garage.”

Besides an increase in car thefts, APD also reported an increase in motorcycle and scooter thefts. Bremner said thieves have a harder time stealing the bigger, heavier bikes, but scooters are easily taken.

Neuroscience senior Colton Janysek returned to Austin after a trip at the beginning of the semester to find his motorcycle stolen off the street where he parked it.

“I was gone for a couple of weeks [and thought] maybe it had gotten towed,” Janysek said. “Right [after], I didn’t know how to feel. I was just really numb.”

His bike had been tampered with before while it was parked on campus, Janysek said. Because of the large size of his bike, Janysek said he thinks the thieves must have planned ahead of time.

Bremner said riders should not rely on fork locks, for which the rider turns the front wheel to the left and uses a steering lock.

“It must be chained to something like a post or tree or provided rack,” Bremner said. 

Students should make sure to not have anything visible in their cars and to not leave other keys, in addition to car keys, in the vehicle, according to Bremner.

“Don’t leave any keys in your car,” Bremner said. “If it gets burglarized, the bad guys will find them and can enter your house [and] steal your car.” 

Of the six auto thefts that have occurred recently, Bremner said two of those were recovered.