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Texas Auto Theft Prevention Experts Meeting In San Antonio

Eileen Pace

The state’s top auto theft detectives are meeting in San Antonio this week and have a list of tips for owners of certain vehicles.

Lt. Paul Heitzmann of the San Antonio Police Department said auto theft is a sophisticated operation these days. Thieves also are looking inside your vehicle for paperwork that can give them a chance to steal your identify.

"Auto crime is now an organized criminal activity. It is no longer just a crime of opportunity," he said. 

Heitzman said the top five vehicles stolen in Texas are Ford, Chevy and Dodge trucks, and the Honda Civic and Accord.

"Really the top five are the ones we con


Credit Eileen Pace
Sgt. Carlos Gonzalez etches the VIN number into the window of one of the top three vehicles coveted by auto thieves in Texas. Gonzalez says often, insurance companies offer discounts for etched vehicles. SAPD does the etching for local residents at no charge.

  cern ourselves with because that's where we can make the most difference," Heitzman said.

Trucks are often stolen because they are also manufactured in Mexico, making it easier for thieves to find parts -- or sell parts after they chop up your vehicle.

Bexar County Sheriff Susan Pamerleau gave three everyday, common sense tips for keeping your vehicle safe:

"Lock your doors, don't leave your keys in the vehicle and don't leave windows or sunroofs open," she said.

Police officers and sheriff’s deputies from around the state are here to attend the Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority Conference this week.  

San Antonio Police will be announcing opportunities in the coming weeks for residents to get their vehicles acid-etched with the VIN Number for free -- another deterrent to stealing a vehicle.

Officers say any deterrent the owner provides encourages an auto thief to move on to an easier target.

Eileen Pace is a veteran radio and print journalist with a long history of investigative and feature reporting in San Antonio and Houston, earning more than 50 awards for investigative reporting, documentaries, long-form series, features, sports stories, outstanding anchoring and best use of sound.