AUSTIN, Texas — Austin police are trying to combat a spike in auto thefts from 2017 to 2018 that happened at a time when property crime overall remained steady.
Police statistics show car thefts rose 17 percent, from 2,003 to 2,348, between 2017 and 2018.
September saw the biggest year-over-year increase, when the number went from 151 in 2017 to 238 in 2018.
Police said many of the crimes had something in common: The owner of the cars left the keys inside -- sometimes in the ignition.
Detective Sean Lott said the community should be concerned about the increase.
"What we see oftentimes when cars are stolen, they are used in other crimes," Detective Lott said. "So, they will steal a car and go joyriding and break into other cars...So, there is often an escalation connected to car thefts."
Lott said years ago, stealing a car took special skill, requiring thieves to often be able to "hotwire" the engine. He said that often made certain make and models of cars vulnerable to thieves.
Officials said they have identified mopeds, particularly in West Campus, as one vehicle type that appears to be a frequent target.
In the first three quarters of 2018, police received 79 moped report -- 40 of which were from the campus area.