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MARBLE FALLS — Summer brings higher temperatures, but something more nefarious comes along with those mercury readings.

And law enforcement officials want you to protect yourself and your belongings.

Car thefts and vehicle burglaries increase during the summer months, said Stephen Savoy, an investigator with the Heart of Texas Auto-Theft Task Force. The task force provides auto-theft expertise to several counties, including Burnet and Llano.

Often, it’s something simple that could lead to a person targeting a particular vehicle.

“During the summer, more people are traveling, and they’re in unfamiliar areas,” he said. “Other things are on their minds, so they do get lax about keys in their cars.”

Leaving keys in the car, Savoy said, is probably the No. 1 contributing factor in vehicle thefts.

“That is just an advertisement to have you car stolen,” Savoy said. He also stressed the importance of removing valuables from a car or hiding them so people walking by the vehicle can’t just look in the window and see those items. And, on top of that, the investigator said it’s important to always lock your car, even when you’re in it and driving.

Savoy emphasized awareness when it comes to preventing crimes.

“Be cautious of your surroundings. When you’re approaching your car, have your keys ready,” he added.

The top three vehicles thieves take in Texas tend to be pickups with Fords leading the pack followed by Chevy/GMC and Dodge. But, Savoy pointed out, it’s not necessarily the newest vehicles that thieves target, whether a pickup or a car.

“Statistically, 85 percent of the cars stolen are five years old or older,” he said. Savoy recommended owners of older vehicles should lock them as well.

Thieves also are grabbing trailers of all types and recreational vehicles such as ATVs.

“We’ve seen an increase in the last few months of stolen utility and work trailers and, in some cases, travel trailers,” Savoy said. “(And) don’t assume that if it’s in your driveway that it’s not going to be targeted.”

The investigator said people should lock their trailers in some manner to thwart would-be thieves.

Savoy offered advice on what people should know about their vehicles or have handy in the case somebody does steal one.

“Always have the paperwork, a copy of the registration and title,” he said. “And know your license (plate) number. Educate yourself on what you own and keep the paperwork in a secure but easily accessible place.”