Potter County officials are seeking state grant funds to aid the effort of addressing vehicle thefts here. The Potter County Commissioners' Court has approved an Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority grant request with an eye toward raising public awareness and implementing prevention initiatives.
"The grant is a little over $1 million," 47th District Attorney Randall Sims said. "Since September of 2015, we've had 3,719 vehicles stolen in Amarillo and 3,121 of them or 78 percent, had the keys in them - 1,104, which is 27 percent, were left running. Auto theft is one of those crimes that is going to be a least resistant thing. If you take your precautions and take everything out, there's not anybody that's going to bother your car. They're going to move on to somewhere else where it's easier to do."
According to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles website, the Texas Automobile Theft Prevention Authority (ATPA) was established by the 72nd Texas Legislature in 1991 and became the first statewide endeavor to reduce auto theft. Additionally, the 80th Legislature amended the ATPA mission in House Bill 1887 to emphasize reducing vehicle burglaries, with the resulting agency, the Texas ABTPA, being charged with assessing automobile burglary, theft and economic theft in Texas by analyzing the methods and providing financial support to combat the problems. In 2009, the ABTPA became part of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
Amarillo Police Chief Ed Drain said the Panhandle Auto Burglary and Theft Unit has played a vital role in addressing vehicle theft and the department continually executes public service initiatives designed to emphasize heightened awareness while also imparting key messages along those lines, including:
Turning off your vehicle and taking your keys
If you have a fence around your property, putting a lock on the gate is effective
Put your car in the garage - and if unable to do so, lock the vehicle and take everything out, especially guns and garage door openers
If possible, use a video monitoring system
"When it comes to stolen vehicles, we are way outside the lines for a city of our population," Drain said during a recent presentation before the city council. "Roughly 70 percent of our vehicles that are stolen, the keys are in the vehicle. And 20 to 30 percent of those vehicles are left running. We could lower our crime rate considerably if we could get those stolen vehicle rates down."
The National Insurance Crime Bureau Top 10 Most Stolen Vehicles - 2017 is as follows:
1) Ford Pick-Up (Full Size)
2) Chevrolet Pick-Up (Full Size)
3) Dodge Pick-Up (Full Size)
4) GMC Pickup (Full Size)
5) Honda Accord
6) Honda Civic
7) Chevrolet Tahoe
8) Toyota Camry
9) Nissan Altima
10) Toyota Corolla
Drain said Amarillo has had more Ford F-250 and 350s stolen than the smaller F-150 truck because those larger models are what drug dealers and coyotes on the border use to go off road.