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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

SMPD reports spike in car larcenies in late September

SMPD+reports+spike+in+car+larcenies+in+late+September
Eva Bowler

San Marcos Police Department (SMPD) reported a spike in car burglaries the last weekend of September, with as many as 11 cases per day compared to the average of three to six.

The number of reports for September is currently 77, but this number is not final because not all reports for the month have been processed yet, said Sgt. Kye Kennedy of SMPD.

According to the Texas Penal Code, ‘burglary of a vehicle’ is generally classified as a Class A misdemeanor. It is punishable by up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $4,000 or both.

“All you have to do is enter the vehicle,” Kennedy said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s unlocked or if you steal a pencil or a laptop computer; the offense is the same.”

In 2023, May and August saw the most vehicle burglaries with 101 and 92, respectively.

Kennedy said no specific area in San Marcos is consistently hit.

“We have two types of car burglaries: juveniles trying car door handles and organized criminal groups that will work their way up and down the interstate,” Kennedy said. “If we have a football game in town, a graduation or a big shopping weekend at the outlet mall, they’ll hit the hotels. If it’s not [a busy weekend], they’ll look for apartment complexes.”

From posts by vehicle burglary victims on Nextdoor, a social media platform for neighborhoods, many ‘welcomed’ criminals by not ensuring their cars were locked and leaving valuables in sight.

Alyssa Clemts, a resident one of the apartment complexes off Mill Street, said her car was robbed twice in less than a month: the last week of August and the first week of September. Both times, she had her vehicle unlocked.

At her estimate, the theft in August cost Clemts a little above $1,000. What’s most important, the pieces stolen were sentimental to her, like her charm bracelet.

“They got me good,” Clemts said. “My AirPods, my purse that had a James Avery charm bracelet in it. My entire bag of makeup. Another pair of headphones, a portable speaker, a couple of bags with hair and jewelry stuff [were all taken].”

Clemts said she could track her AirPods with her phone to a house in Austin. She called SMPD to let them know, but nobody got back to her. Now, the earbuds are offline.

“We are having a significant increase in violent crime, both here and in Austin. And property crimes, unfortunately, tend to take a backseat,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy, who only has two detectives to assign property cases to, said he has to look at the overall benefit for all the citizens of San Marcos when deciding who to assign cases to.

Regarding vehicle burglary prevention, Kennedy said ensuring the vehicle is locked is vital. He also recommended Ring doorbells and security cameras, especially for those living in individual houses.

“We don’t always identify the offenders, but it is a significant help,” Kennedy said. “If nothing else, we can identify the type of vehicle that they’re in and send that out to patrol officers.”

As for car alarms, the place where one parks is the deciding factor, said Kennedy. They are primarily helpful for residential neighborhoods but not apartment complexes or parking garages.

“If you live in an apartment complex and an alarm goes off every night for whatever reason, you might just become numb to that noise and not even go look,” Kennedy said.

However, even sophisticated security technologies do not give a 100% guarantee. Cynthia Smith, a homeowner near Paul Peña Park, said having an expensive doorbell camera did not prevent criminals from going through her car back in 2020.

“What they did is they crawled along the side of the house, came up to the doorbell and put electrical tape over it,” Smith said.

Smith never filed a police report, believing it was her fault as the car was unlocked. However, Kennedy recommends that a report is always filed.

“When we see a pattern of criminal activity in a specific area, we can afford to focus our patrols in those areas,” Kennedy said. “And one of the only ways we’re going to know that is if those crimes are reported.”

San Marcos residents can report crime online via the Citizens Online Police Reporting System (COPRS) without the necessity to wait at the scene. However, according to the City of San Marcos website, if a firearm or prescription is taken then the crime cannot be reported online.

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