Amarillo, TEXAS (KVII) — Car theft continues to be a problem in Amarillo.
But could those thefts have been prevented? According to the Amarillo Police Department, they could.
The March 2019 auto theft statistics show there were 85 stolen vehicles, and 77 of those vehicles had keys inside of them. To top it off, more than a dozen were left running.
“I know of a few reports for people that forgot something inside and left their car running. So they go inside real quick and their car is gone,” said APD Corporal and Police Coordinator for Amarillo Crime Stoppers, Scott Welling.
According to Welling, these numbers typically spike in the winter time. He said people often times leave their cars running to warm up in the morning.
“No matter the time frame that you’re going to leave your vehicle unattended—be sure to just turn it off, secure it, and that way you can come back to your vehicle that actually is there,” said Welling.
However, there is no one target area and car thefts are happening all over town.
Welling said investigating these crimes is a group effort. About three years ago, Potter and Randall counties teamed up with APD and the Texas Department of Public Safety to form the Panhandle Auto Burglary and Theft Unit (PABTU) in an effort to prevent thefts. But remember, these type of crimes are easily preventable, if drivers just remove keys and other valuables.
“In some cases it may be a crime of opportunity, and the suspect may just be driving by on their own or with other people and see that it’s running. Or it may just have been an auto burglary, but when they get inside of it they find keys to the car and that leads to them stealing the car,” said Welling.
Welling said most of the cars are usually recovered, but there are cases where they are used in another crime.