Austin Police department says auto thefts are up nearly 40% compared to March 2021

According to the Austin Police Department, auto thefts are up by 37%

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The Austin Police Department says that auto thefts citywide are up by nearly 40% year-over-year as of March.

Data released by the police department shows a 37% year-over-year increase of auto thefts when comparing data from March 2022 to March 2021.

In the first three months of the year, Austin police recorded 466 instances of auto theft, compared to 341 in the first three months of 2021. The downtown sector saw a huge increase of about 150% over March 2021 according to the APD data. 

Austin Police Department Auto Theft Unit Detective Francisco Jimenez told KXAN that auto thefts can happen in the "blink of an eye."

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Austin, Texas.

Austin, Texas. (Reuters)

"The vast majority of vehicles are stolen, either left running to run inside a building for a short period of time. And it can happen in a blink of an eye," Jimenez said.

He said that a lot of their major offenders often commit fraud as well.

"Like the virtual ones as far as like it could be like Avail Car Sharing and Turo, just those type of vehicle rental methods because a lot of those vehicles are rented virtually. A lot of our big offenders who steal cars commit a lot of fraud," Jimenez said.

Amid the recent spike in auto thefts, in one instance, a dog was also stolen along with a car that was parked at a 7-Eleven in Round Rock, Texas.

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Austin TX cityscape. Skyscrapers and Congress Avenue.

Austin TX cityscape. Skyscrapers and Congress Avenue. (iStock)

The dog, Noodle, was in the front seat with the AC on while the car owner went inside to the 7-Eleven.

When the man returned from the store, the dog and car were gone. The wife of the man who went to the store, Stella Mills, told FOX 7 that he had an eerie feeling while in the store.

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"As he was paying, he had an eerie feeling to look behind him and as he looked behind him, he could see the car was backing up," Mills said.