POSTED: Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 11:04pm
UPDATED: Thursday, January 16, 2014 - 8:51am
El Paso, TX (KTSM) — Crime is on the decline in the Sun City.
Auto thefts are the lowest they've been in decades, and are down for a fourth straight year.
According to the El Paso Police Department, in 2013, 747 cars were reported stolen compared to 1100 the year before. EPPD says it's thanks to law enforcement amping up efforts to bust thieves, manufacturers making it harder to steal cars, and people being more careful about protecting their property.
"The harder you can make it for them, may it be putting on an alarm, a locking device on your steering wheel or brake peddle or just locking the vehicle and rolling up the windows, anything that takes time and time is the biggest enemy of the thief," said Stephen Plummer with the El Paso Auto Theft Task Force.
Tony Brooker and his family from east El Paso followed those rules, but still fell victim to a car thief.
"If you're one of the people whose car was stolen, it doesn't matter if the city had 3000 or 750 thefts, like they did this year, yours was one of them and you still have a huge loss and you still have to deal with the situation," said Booker.
Within 5 years, the family had not one but two of their trucks stolen from their driveway.
Their neighbors' cars have been stolen as well.
Tony says it has cost his family at least $10,000 to $15,000.
"You had all your contents in it that are valuable to you. And you just walk around feeling vulnerable and wondering what you can do to keep this from happening again," he said.
EPPD says most stolen cars end up across the border.
"It's much harder to recover a vehicle when it leaves our borders," said Plummer.
He says some are used to smuggle drugs and others are sold to unsuspecting customers.
"We have people who cross back into El Paso feeling they may have bought a vehicle legitimately in Mexico and when it comes to cross our border, it's caught at a Customs checkpoint and found to be stolen," said Plummer.
EPPD says getting your car's VIN number etched on the windshield is also another way to protect it. The department offers free VIN etching to the community.
If your car is stolen, you're encouraged to file a police report and contact your insurance company immediately.
Keeping an ID card on you with the vehicle's information can also make it easier and faster for police to track it down.