BRYAN COUNTY, OK -- July is National Vehicle Theft Protection Month. With July and August being the most popular months for car theft, officers and some companies are now taking this time to educate the public.
Oklahoma Highway Patrol Officer Michael Green confirms that vehicle theft is a problem in Texoma, specifically in Sherman and Denison. While you're scanning the stores for the best deals, car thieves may be scanning the parking lot for an easy target.
"A lot of them are stolen because people leave them running, walk in the store for a minute and then they come back out and cars gone," said Green. "Or they leave the keys in the car because they feel safe and comfortable at their house or at a friend's house. They come back out…cars gone. Just don't do it. Lock up your car. Keep your keys with you."
LoJack Corporation and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators (IAATI) are now on board with Vehicle Theft Protection Month as an educational effort to help owners protect their vehicles. Now in its sixth year, the 2012 initiative features results of a new survey conducted by LoJack, with You Tube home videos answering questions about how drivers care for their cars.
Questions like how important is vehicle theft to you?
"Well for me it's a very important issue because I rely on my car heavily for work, buying groceries, basically carrying out my life," said a survey participant.
What measures do you take to protect your vehicle?
"I don't know, I just lock my door and hope for the best," said another driver in the survey.
And to the question have you ever parked your car and left it unlocked, one woman answered, "Well, I only leave it unlocked if it's in the driveway of my house so but you know, you could always forget I guess"
Officer Green says that simply locking up your vehicle just isn't enough in some cases.
"Any kind of deterrent is good," he said. "In my experience, it just keeps an honest man honest. If somebody's going to steal your car, they're going to look for the easiest target so if you got something there that shows you're they're going to have to work a little bit, they're not going to take it."
Officer Green also advises that if you do see a theft in progress, call 911 or star 55 in Oklahoma. Make sure you give your name, phone number, specific location and a good description of the vehicle.
According to the National Crime Information Center Survey, out of 4,500 surveyed, 79% think about theft from occasionally to often; but 36% don't take any measures to protect their vehicles. 45% have left a running vehicle unattended and 23% have left their parked car unlocked.
Both LoJack and the International Association of Auto Theft Investigators offer these tips to protect your vehicle:
Use Common Sense: Lock doors and windows, keep keys with you and never inside a running car. Don’t hide spare keys inside. Never leave keys in the vehicle with the engine running. Park in a well-lit area. Don't leave valuables visible in your car. And don't program your home address in your GPS system under "home"
Consider Theft Prevention Products. Visible and audible warning devices like a wheel lock or alarm system and immobilizers like smart keys, kill switches and fuel cut-off devices.
Install a Tracking and Recovery System that can provide peace of mind in the event that it is stolen.
For more information on LoJack, visit http://www.lojack.com.
For more information on IAATI, visit https://www.iaati.org.