CONVERSE, Texas – The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office says more doors being left unlocked and valuables being left in plain sight are behind an increase in vehicle burglaries.
“We haven’t seen an increase where windows are broken or doors are damaged to gain entry,” said Ryan Gabriel, BCSO spokesman.
Many residents in the Dover subdivision in northeast Bexar County have caught the activity on surveillance cameras, which they often share on the NextDoor app.
“It’s frustrating. It’s so gosh-darned frustrating,” resident Lydia Johnston-Bell said. “This is a common occurrence.”
Johnston-Bell said during a torrential rainstorm, she and her husband rushed inside with their groceries, leaving their vehicle door unlocked. Because it appeared to be a leather wallet or purse, she said, thieves took the owner’s manual from the vehicle.
Johnston-Bell said the manual was later returned by a neighbor who found it thrown in the street.
Narrating what her surveillance camera saw, Johnston-Bell described some young men in their teens, or early twenties, walking past vehicles parked in the street.
After spotting something on the seat, she said, “They’ll stop, turn back around and check the car door.”
She said at least eight vehicles along her street have been hit in the past two weeks, and four homes out of 20 were burglarized over the past year.
Adrianne Perez, who lives in the same neighborhood, said after hearing similar stories, she checked her home surveillance video and saw two young men trying to open her car door, but it was locked.
“It was very violating. I might as well have opened the front door and let them in,” Perez said.
Perez said moments later, her camera caught the men opening her neighbor’s vehicle door, take out something and put it in a bag.
Gabriel said as a result of these and other similar reports, BCSO is increasing patrols in the area with the hope of catching someone in the act or still holding stolen items.
If they’re caught, Gabriel said they could face up to a year in jail and a $4,000 fine. For those with more than one conviction, it’s no longer a misdemeanor. Gabriel said it’s a state jail felony with up to a two-year sentence.
He said it’s hard to say whether “it’s just kids” or a theft ring in operation, or both.
Gabriel said the problem has become so widespread that BCSO is promoting the “Nine o’clock Push,” to remind the public to check their vehicle doors and remove anything in plain view at 9 p.m. every day.