San Juan Police working to thwart auto theft by Mexican Drug Cartels

Police in San Juan think a sticker is a good start to preventing your car from being stolen and going across the border into Mexico for incidious purposes. The program is designed not only to protect property, but also to keep stolen vehicles out of the hands of drug cartels south of the border.
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"They're stealing the cars and using them for violent crimes, and I don't want my personal property being used for that. So yeah, it worries me," Benjamin Peña stated in an interview with Camaron Abundes and posted on the KRGV-TV online site."They're stealing the cars and using them for violent crimes, and I don't want my personal property being used for that. So yeah, it worries me,"

According to San Juan Police, the value of cars stolen in the Rio Grande Valley during 2010 totaled $1,012,176. So far this year, San Juan has had just over $600,000 in thefts and the decrease is thought a result of prevention by the citizens.

Peña reported his wife's car was stolen a few years ago and he never wants to deal with something like that again. A Texas Help End Auto Theft (H.E.A.T.) sticker is how he is actively trying to get car thieves to think again about stealing his truck.

"What's so awesome is that if your car gets stolen overnight.... And an officer sees that sticker, they can stop it, from what they're explaining to us, to check if it's stolen," said Peña.

The stickers indicate the vehicle inclusion in a program allowing owners to register with law enforcement, enabling officers to stop the vehicle between the hours of 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. or if that vehicle attempts to cross into Mexico. The registration lasts four years and the registration info is entered into a statewide database providing instant 24-hour access by police agencies.

The program is a publicly funded part of the Texas Automobile Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, formed in 1991 to interdict the transportation of stolen vehicles into Mexico.

San Juan Police Corporal Jose Treviño says the H.E.A.T. sticker is a good extra step beyond any further anti-theft devices you can install, such as immobilizers or The Club.

"Since I've been working auto theft, I've never heard of a stolen vehicle with a 'club' that was used on the vehicle," Corporal Treviño said. "We do have rashes of stolen vehicles, depending on the demand on the other side in Mexico,"

“Many of the people that we have arrested have told us that they look for vehicles they can take without much hassle,” San Juan police Chief Juan Gonzalez was quoted as saying in an article by Ildefonso Ortiz on TheMonitor.com. “If you have two (Ford) F-250s and one has a Club, they will go to the one that doesn’t have it because it will take them less work and time to take it and it reduces their chances of getting caught.”

More than 300 drivers registered with the Texas' H.E.A.T program just last Saturday. Many of them were given free Club steering wheel locks when they registered for the program. Peña stated it was a step he was more than willing to take to keep thieves from driving off with his truck.

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