Houston is welcoming a 23 percent decline in auto theft since 2001, the Houston Chronicle reports. The police department credits two programs, one using undercover officers to infiltrate and arrest theft rings and another asking citizens to register cars with the Help End Auto Theft Program, in which a decal lets police know that the vehicles probably should not be in use between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., the most common hours for stealing vehicles.
“This auto theft trend has gone down dramatically in the last 10 years,” said Capt. Robert Montgomery. “We’re going to do the same things that we’re doing.”
The decrease in auto thefts is significant for overall crime statistics. “Auto theft is one of the largest percentages in overall property crime reports,” police spokeswoman Sandra Aponte said. “A reduction in auto theft for the city is going to result in an overall property crime reduction.”
Houston police are tackling car burglaries with sting operations. In places such as mall parking lots, they place a laptop computer in a car, then arrest anyone who breaks into the car to steal it. Dallas police have used similar efforts to drop that city’s car theft rate by 10 percent in the past five months compared with the same period last year. Dallas thieves have taken about 200 fewer vehicles a month since September than they did in summer months.