WACO, TX — Waco police are warning residents about a rise in the number of stolen vehicles in the city.
Officer Garen Bynum said car thefts are one of the highest property crimes in the city in 2019. This year, at least 141 vehicles were stolen. Thus far, police have recovered 91 of them.
"A big problem is people leaving their keys in the vehicle and making it easily accessible to criminals at that point," Bynum said.
Juan Medina, who left his car unlocked and keys in the car, said he had his car stolen on Memorial Day while he was remodeling a property in the 1300 block of Speight Avenue.
"We have always left our cars unlocked because we are coming in and out, taking out tools from vehicles, retrieving needed items from the car. It's always open. We had never lost anything. Never," Medina said.
Police recovered his car hours later on E. Gholson Road and E. Lakeshore Drive.
"We tried to initiate a traffic stop on that vehicle but the vehicle fled so a pursuit ensued at that point and ended at one of the gas stations at Gholson and East Lakeshore," Bynum said,
Two of the suspects ran off and three teenagers were arrested. The names of the suspects were not released because they are juveniles.
"They cleaned out the vehicle, taking everything inside of it," Medina said.
The missing items included work tools and keys to his car. Medina said he spent $500 dollars to transport his vehicle in a tow truck and to replace his electronic key.
Now, he is taking steps to prevent this from happening again.
"I prefer losing two to three minutes while I take out my tools or my key, over having to deal with a scare like this," Medina said.
To prevent from being an easy target for burglars, Bynum recommends people to lock their vehicle and take their keys with them.