ALAMO RANCH – Brandie Albert plugged her ears before her husband, Travis Albert, set off his car alarm.
“You’re going to want to cover your ears,” Travis Albert told KSAT 12 reporters. “It’s literally a train horn.”
He added a bank of three train horns under the hood of his Ford F-150. What might just seem like a souped-up addition is actually a homemade solution to vehicle burglaries and break-ins. Neighbors across Alamo Ranch report these types of crimes are on the rise. And in the past couple of years, the Albert family alone reported that their truck had seen more than five burglary and break-in attempts.
“It’s a problem,” Travis Albert said. “It seems stupid, but every time it happens, I try to do something different.”
The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office defines a car break-in as a situation where someone unlawfully enters a vehicle without the owner’s permission, typically with the intention to steal something inside. The department defines a vehicle burglary as breaking in with the intention of committing a more serious crime, like stealing the vehicle altogether.
Through vehicle burglary metric data, BCSO reported that across most of 2023 thus far, there has been an increase in these crimes in the county and more specifically, the Alamo Ranch community. Across Fiscal Year 2023, BCSO reported the most vehicle burglaries in the Alamo Ranch area during March, July and August.
“The majority of vehicular burglaries are committed as they are crimes of opportunity,” BCSO spokesperson Adelina Simpson said. “The vast majority of vehicular burglary success is attributable to unlocked vehicles.”
At Alamo Ranch Collision, owner Jose Treviño said his team repairs on average three to four vehicles a week with break-in damage.
“It’s the same repair every single time,” Treviño said. “It’s very frustrating because you never know if you’re next.”
Treviño said recent TikTok trends and car part shortages have contributed to longer delays for repairs.
“It was bad timing,” Treviño said. “When you have such a high volume of the same parts being ordered, they just couldn’t keep up with the manufacturing of those pieces.”
That’s one of the reasons the Albert family has started ordering their own parts to continue to add security protection to their truck. Travis Albert said he’s lost thousands in damages to car break-ins and burglary attempts, and now he’s spent thousands too trying to prevent his car from being a target.
“Every time that that someone’s tried to steal it or try to break into it, I’ve tried to learn something from it,” Travis Albert said. “If my battery ever dies, I’ll have to break a window to get into my truck because there’s no way to get in anymore.”
The San Antonio Police Department reported the following as the top ten stolen vehicles across September of 2023:
- Hyundai Elantra
- Ford F-Series
- Kia Optima
- Hyundai Sonata
- Kia Soul
- Chevrolet Silverado
- Dodge Ram
- Kia Forte
- Kia Rio
- Kia Sportage
“This takes away something from you and that insecurity can never be replaced,” Brandie Albert said. “You just wonder, where is your safe place?”
BCSO said the department is encountering more teenagers committing vehicle burglaries. Simpson said crime prevention initiatives are ongoing throughout Bexar County to reduce the amount of vehicle burglaries in the San Antonio area. One of those campaigns is the #9PMRoutine community awareness campaign. The goal is to remind residents to remove valuables from cars, take keys inside and lock up any vehicles.
BCSO said to call 210-335-6000 or 911 in cases of emergencies. If you have recently had your vehicle burglarized and you have photos or videos to share with BCSO, you can email them to email@example.com.