By Tiffany Pelt - email
LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Vehicle thefts in the Lubbock area are on the rise compared to this same time last year. Over a nine-month period, over 500-vehicles have been stolen and almost 3,000 have been broken into.
That doesn't even include the most recent stolen vehicle found at the bottom of Playa Lake at Buddy Holly Park Tuesday night. Authorities said no one was in the SUV and that they're currently trying to determine who drove the vehicle into the lake.
"We get quite a few calls per year about vehicles in these Playa Lakes and we actually do find them," said Division Chief Michael Lewis of the Lubbock Fire Department.
That car was the 13th vehicle pulled out of the lake in just a year. However, not all of these "stolen" vehicles at the bottom of the lake are what they seem.
"Out of the 12-cars recovered, 11 had the keys left in them. People need to remember insurance companies are saying now if you leave your keys in the vehicle, then they're going to say it's an owner assisted theft and they may not pay your insurance claim," said Crime Coordinator Kat Anderson of the South Plains Auto Theft Task Force.
Out of those vehicles found in the lake, Anderson says about 50% of the cases end up being insurance fraud. "If you're behind on your payments don't run it off in a Playa Lake because we're going to find it and more than likely find out its insurance fraud," said Anderson.
Out of all the vehicles stolen, Anderson says the Task Force has about a 75% recovery rate, but still warns people to be careful when leaving valuable possessions in their vehicle.
"Take your keys. Take your keys and lock your vehicle. Hide your belongings because thieves around here are opportunists. They'll go for churches, movie theaters, and believe it or not the majority of car-thefts are out of people's drive ways," said Anderson.
Just last month in August, Anderson reports that nine vehicles were stolen. However she says the real rise in auto thefts will occur in the upcoming winter months when people turn their cars on to warm up and then leave them unattended.
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