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Auto Theft and Burglary Prevention

ABTPA LogoIt doesn't matter what kind of car you drive, all vehicles are a potential target of theft. Nearly 65,000 cars and trucks are stolen in the state of Texas each year, and thousands more are burglarized. Almost half of all vehicles stolen had the keys left inside.

Protect your Vehicle

Hide your valuables. Items in the open make your car a bigger target.

Take your keys and never leave a second set in your vehicle. Twenty percent of stolen vehicles had keys inside them, making the theft even easier.

Lock your car. Almost half of all vehicles stolen were left unlocked.

Park in well-lit or heavily-trafficked areas. Thieves do not like witnesses. Find an attended lot or garage if possible.

Give parking attendants the ignition key only. Keep your trunk and glove box locked at all times. If possible, get separate keys for the ignition and the trunk and glove box.

Never leave your car running unattended. Cars are often stolen at convenience stores, gas stations or when an owner leaves the vehicle running to warm it up.

Install an anti-theft device. Many insurance companies may give you a discount for certain anti-theft devices. Check with your agent for details. Anti-theft devices include:

  • Ignition or fuel kill switches. Kill switches are inexpensive devices that disable the car until being disengaged.
  • Visible steering wheel, floorboard, tire or gearshift locks. These locks disables key components of the vehicle, rendering it immobile.
  • Hood locks. These prevent the thief from gaining access to your engine, security system or battery.
  • Armored collar around the steering column. Collars protect the column and ignition from tampering.
  • Alarms. Security systems are common and make loud warning sounds when the car is opened.
  • Optional sensors may detect glass breaking, motion, tampering and towing.
  • Vehicle tracking. A hidden transmitter enables police to track the car (may not be available in all areas).

What to do if Your Car is Stolen

Although the rate of auto theft is declining, thousands of Texas vehicles are stolen every year. If your car is stolen, the first thing to do is to remain calm and then follow these steps:

  1. Immediately contact the police and file a report. Make sure you provide your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) number to help law enforcement agencies locate your vehicle if it has been stolen. If you do not have your VIN number readily available, contact your insurance company or financial lender.
  2. Report the theft or burglary to your insurance provider. Even if the loss is not covered, reporting the crime will protect you if the automobile causes harm to others after being stolen. If possible, have the vehicle's title, the location of all keys before the theft, a thorough description of the vehicle and any personal property that was stolen with the vehicle.
  3. Contact your financial institution if the vehicle is leased or still being financed.

Avoid Buying a Stolen Vehicle

Many stolen vehicles are sold to unsuspecting buyers. If you knowingly buy a stolen car, you can be arrested. If you buy a stolen car unknowingly, you could lose the car and your money. To avoid becoming the car thief's second victim, we urge you to keep these tips in mind:

  • When buying from a private individual, make sure the title and registration match the name and address of the person selling the car.
  • Be cautious of a seller with no fixed address, place of employment or phone number.
  • Ask the seller for references about past financing and insurance on the vehicle. Verify the information with the bank, finance company or agent.
  • Ensure the vehicle identification number (VIN) on the automobile's dash is present, secure and unaltered.
  • Check to ensure the VIN plate has not been repainted and the numbers stamped in the plate appear to be the original factory numbers.
  • If in doubt about plate authenticity, check with a new car dealer who handles the same model, or contact a law enforcement agency. (Thieves may remove the VIN plate and replace it with one from a similar wrecked vehicle.)
  • Be suspicious of any deal that seems "too good to be true."

Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles - 2013

1) Ford Pickup

2) Chevrolet Pickup

3) Dodge Pickup

4) Chevrolet Tahoe

5) Honda Civic

6) Honda Accord

7) GMC Pickup

8) Chevy Impala

9) Toyota Camry

10) Nissan Altima

* TxDPS MVT19 Report

More Information

For more information, please email the Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call (512) 465-1485.

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Copyright © 2015 Texas Department of Motor Vehicles. All rights reserved. - 4000 Jackson Ave, Austin, TX 78731