Sheriff’s Office Auto Theft Unit reminds you to practive safety measures when shopping this holiday season.

November marks the beginning of the holiday shopping season and Sheriff Adrian Garcia and the HCSO’s Auto Theft Unit, in collaboration with the Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, are working to deter and reduce auto theft and burglaries by arming you with some simple prevention tips.

Auto thefts and burglaries are often crimes of opportunity. Thieves look for those who appear vulnerable and unaware of their surroundings as potential victims.

• Dress casually and comfortably and avoid wearing expensive jewelry.
• Do not carry a purse. If you do, make sure that you do not leave it unattended. Shoulder bags should be secured under your arm so that it is not easily grabbed. Wallets are best kept in a front pocket.
• Avoid being rushed or distracted. Pay attention to each purchase transaction and be aware of your surroundings.
• Avoid carrying large sums of cash. Pay with check or credit cards as much as possible. Should your checkbook or credit card become lost or stolen, contact your financial institutions immediately. Store all your account numbers in a secure location at home or in a safe deposit box.
• Avoid carrying too many packages. This can limit your visibility and/or your freedom of motion to react if a dangerous situation were to occur.
• Make sure you have made a mental note of where you parked, survey the area around your vehicle when approaching it and have your keys ready. If you feel that you are in danger, seek the assistance of law enforcement or a security guard. Follow your instinct and return to a safe area.
• Beware of strangers approaching you for any reason.
• Park in a well lit area.
• Do not leave packages or belongings in your vehicle that are in plain view. Use your vehicle’s trunk to store packages during shopping trips.
• Lock your vehicle and take your keys even if you are going to be away from your vehicle for just a few moments. The majority of stolen vehicles are chosen simply because the thief was afforded easy access.
• Do not leave documentation in your vehicle with personal information such as vehicle registration, title, or any other documents that may have account numbers or your address.

The HCSO’s Auto Theft Unit has placed signs in business and residential areas throughout the county to remind you to Hide Your Things, Lock Your Car, and Take Your Keys!