Amarillo police establish new auto theft prevention unit

Amarillo police establish new auto theft prevention unit

Amarillo, TX - A new unit to prevent auto theft and burglaries is being added to our area after statistics show an increased number in crime rates.

Busy parking lots like these are easy targets for thieves to break in and steal valuables from your car.

With the increased rate of burglaries, all local law enforcement decided it was time to do something about it

"Amarillo in a bracket from 100,000 to 250,00 consistently ranks number one in the state of Texas," 47th District Attorney Randall Sims said.

Auto thefts and burglaries are on the rise, and according to Chief Robert Taylor of the Amarillo Police Department, it's because thieves and burglars are looking to feed another problem, drug addiction.

However, now this issue is being addressed firsthand by all local law enforcement.

"About a year ago I asked the district judges to give me a grant auditor in my office and we searched through many many websites to see what monies might be available that would be of use here in Potter County and in that search we found this auto theft grant," Kerry Hood, with the Potter County Auditor's Office said.

The grant is nearly $670,000, awarded to begin a unit that will solely dedicate its time to dropping the auto theft and burglary rates not only in Amarillo, but in surrounding counties north of here as well.

9 new positions will make up the unit, which will be housed at APD.

"Over the last seven years, we've been putting a lot of effort in to directing patrol and things like that to bring our crime rate down, and it has come down about 18 to 20 percent  over the last seven years," Chief Taylor said.  "Those rate in auto burglaries and auto theft  have come down but they are still too high, and so we do need some additional help. We are also adding additional officers to our police department as time goes on as commission allows. That will also help control the problem."

APD officers assigned to the prevention unit will be under cover, focusing primarily on auto theft and burglaries.

Potter County Sheriff's officers will now join patrol in the city to stop the crimes as well.

"There's a lot of agencies and particularly these rural agencies that don't have the funding or capabilities or man power,  A lot of things they are short of to go after these type of offenses and this unit is going to be one of the ones that will be able to go assist and help them and go into those outlying counties," Sims said.

Police departments in other surrounding cities will also work in coordination with the new unit.

It's expected to be underway by October and is aiming to decrease the crime by about ten percent.