Texas law enforcement officials say the days are over when car burglars would break into your car to steal your phone, your camera, and the loose change that you left in the cupholder.
1200 WOAI's Stephanie Narvaez says the new target of car burglars is personal information...including information which is frequently left in cars on insurance cards, credit card receipts, and other items which people frequently leave in cars.
"Think like a thief," Rachel Snell of the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority told 1200 WOAI news. "What could be used against you, what could harm you and benefit a thief. Think about it from that perspective."
While it is commonly known that car burglars will smash a window to steal pennies in your cup holder, causing hundreds of dollars in damage for a few cents worth of gain, Snell says the more sophisticated car thieves know exactly what they are after.
Another item which is now commonly stolen in car burglaries is automatic garage door openers.
"They can get your license and get into your house," she said. "It is important that people take steps to protect all your information, as well as your belongings."
She says another reason why the items which were previously coveted by car burglars, like cameras, aftermarket GPS systems, small electronics, and computer equipment are no longer in high demand is the simple reason that many of those items are now so cheap to buy legitimately, there is no demand for them on the black market. A person won't pay a shady thief $50 for a camera that can be purchased legitimately at Best Buy for $50.
But Snell says personal information is now a gold mine for car burglars. She says many people leave things like their car registration, car insurance card, and on occasion even their drivers license inside their car, and she says it is common to take receipts for purchases and simply leave them on the car seat or stuff them in the glove compartment.
Armed with those items, the thief can continue to rip you off for a lot more than the value of your GPS system.
"They can actually go to your home and steal from you, or commit credit card fraud," she said.