STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
BURNET — Police fear a string of recent vehicle burglaries could be fueling the drug trade in the Highland Lakes and are sending a warning to residents about securing valuables.
There were two reported incidents Aug. 22 in the 1000 block of east Johnson Street in Burnet. In one, thieves stole hand tools and cash from a vehicle parked at a home.
Police are sorting through as many as five similar incidents in August.
“We took two or three (reports) in one day on the southeast side of town,” Burnet Police Chief Paul Nelson said. “They’re all unlocked vehicles. There’s no forced entry,” he added. “It’s pretty much a crime of opportunity.”
Authorities believe the suspect or suspects might have been recently released from jail and could be working with others to commit the crimes.
“That’s how they’re making a living. They’re doing these burglaries of vehicles because it’s easy,” Nelson said. “(The stolen items) are things that are hard to trace and easy to pawn or trade for narcotics.
“Whoever is doing this is definitely mobile,” he added. “These cases look like (the suspects are) in a vehicle, something to get around in.”
Investigators have seen a trend in thefts in the past couple of years on the southeast and northeast sides of the city.
“They’re all at houses, at nighttime when everybody’s asleep,” Nelson said. “People leave their vehicles unlocked.”
Utilizing an anti-theft campaign, the Burnet Police Department has issued a theft prevention alert.
The Lock-Take-Hide program, co-sponsored by the Burnet County Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force, reminds people to “Lock your car. Take your keys. Hide your belongings.”
“We always say that around holidays, but it should be a common practice year-round,” Nelson said. “If you leave your vehicle unlocked, it makes it easier for the criminal.”
Also, police are asking neighbors to help neighbors and report suspicious activity by calling the Burnet County Sheriff’s Office at (512) 756-8080.
“It’s definitely a team effort between the (police department) and the citizens,” Nelson said. “If you see someone walking who looks suspicious, contact dispatch. An officer will come check it out.”