AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - Auto thefts are down in Amarillo for the first time in five years, and police are attributing it to the new Panhandle Auto Burglary and Theft Unit (PABTU).
The unit has only been around since September, but police are already seeing a change in crime.
There were 66 less car thefts in 2015 than 2014, but the unit says more work needs to be done.
"The auto thefts, yes, they have come down but it's not enough," said Shimika Campbell, Crime Prevention Coordinator for the PABTU. "The national average is 212 per 100,000, so we're over. We are number one in the state per capita, we don't want to be number one in Amarillo for auto theft."
The main goal of auto burglary and theft unit is to prevent thefts from happening, but police said when cars are stolen the officers in the unit are very proactive in the field.
"Our piece is just auto theft, so we have some resources that they [APD] don't have, and some equipment that they don't have to be proactive on the scene," Campbell said. "It's a misconception if it is thought that we are not actively looking for their cars, but we're out driving around looking for those cars."
Police warn drivers to be wary near gas stations, apartment complexes, and hotels because that's where thefts mostly occur. They also say thieves are likely to strike in the morning when you're getting ready for work and later in the evening.
Campbell said if we want to see a further decrease in thefts for 2016, the public needs to do their part.
"We need to do more, it can't just be law enforcement it has to be the citizens of the community participating and we believe that if everyone gets on board then we believe that we can make a dent in auto thefts and reduce the numbers and our area safer to be in."
Unless changes are made the unit is predicting auto thefts remain high in 2016.
"I don't want to lose sight of the fact that we've come down, I don't want to minimize that we've come down, but for 2016 the numbers are high so far, and the only way we're going to get to the end of 2016 and see a difference from 2015 is if everybody gets on board.
Police say that starts with the public doing its part.
"As always the message is the same, it doesn't change," Campbell said. "Hide your stuff, lock your car, and take your keys."