EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – A man in Las Cruces wonders if the third auto theft he’s experienced is just bad luck or an issue specific for the area, but Las Cruces Police Department say this problem persists in all surrounding cities.
Cody Brownewell, the victim of a third auto theft, woke up to his car missing from its usual parking spot in font of his house.
“I have put a lot of blood, sweat and tears into that car, literally, and I had huge expectations for that car, I still wasn’t done with it. It’s like you took a chunk of my heart, just stole it from me,” explained Brownewell.
He said this was his dream that he could finally afford and put some work into it. He said all he has left now, is two pairs of keys.
This was his third time having his car stolen and he wonders if it is just bad luck or an issue in the community.
He posted on social media that he had his car stolen and said that many reached out to him saying they had experienced the same thing.
The Las Cruces Police Department reported 196 car thefts as of July of this year, which is a 28% increase since the same time of 2019.
A police spokesman said that the numbers have been steadily increasing through the years, but have significantly decreased since the ’80s and ’90s, when auto thefts were through the roof.
According to El Paso Police Department, local auto theft rate back then was about 125 to 150 stolen vehicles every week.
The problem was put under control over the years and El Paso now averages on 15 stolen vehicles per week.
As far as country auto theft ratings are concerned, El Paso is ranked No. 184, and Las Cruces No. 93 per-capita auto theft, according to a police report obtained by KTSM.
There are 644 vehicles stolen in El Paso at the moment, which is 3% lower than the same time last year.
In 2019, auto thefts increased 9% from the previous year with a total of 1,527 vehicles reported stolen.
“There are so many people in our community who leave their vehicles unlocked, who leave purses on the front seats, who leave keys in the ignition,” said Dan Trujillo, spokesman for LCPD, explaining how car theft is a crime of opportunity.
He explained that most vehicles get stolen because of negligence of the owner rather than forced entry.
“Make sure it’s locked, make sure there’s no valuables inside the vehicles, make sure the keys are not there,” advised Trujillo.
Another way of prevention he suggested is to park your car in the garage, if you can, or in a well lighted area with your wheels turned all the way to make it harder for the vehicle to be pushed or towed.
Another wallet-friendly way to protect yourself is getting a wheel security lock, which will not only deter the thieves, said Trujillo, but also disable steering.
If your car does get stolen, Trujillo advises you to call the police immediately and refrain from posting on social media. Ee said this could get to the perpetrators who will then know the car is being searched for and most likely change its appearance.
Brownewell said he is still hopeful to finding his car, but said that even if he does get it back, it will most likely be in poor shape, making him start over once again.
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