KATY MAGAZINE NEWS
March 28, 2019
By Natalie Cook Clark
Authorities warn Katy residents that thieves are targeting vehicles in broad daylight in search of laptops, devices, guns, and other valuables. Some of the hardest hit areas are restaurants, gyms, and shopping centers along I-10 and Grand Parkway for quick getaway opportunities.
When Keri Burdette parked her car at Mason Jar restaurant yesterday to have lunch with clients, she never dreamed her car would be broken into in just a matter of minutes. Burdette inadvertently locked her keys inside her rental car as she was exiting. She went inside the Mason Jar to get her clients settled at a table and call roadside assistance. Less than 15 minutes later, Burdette walked out to the parking lot, to discover the back window of the car had been smashed out.
Business professionals being targeted
The thief took approximately $3000 worth of computers and devices that Burdette had concealed in a backpack inside the car.
After speaking with the officer at the scene, Burdette learned that these kinds of targeted, planned thefts are happening in droves, particularly at Katy Area restaurants along I-10 and Grand Parkway, and other major streets.
Burdette learned valuable information from the reporting deputy. "They look for people in business clothes hoping they will have computers and devices in their cars," says Burdette. Thieves may also be targeting the lunch crowd because business professionals are more likely to carry their computers and devices during the day while on the job, than they do at night.
Blind spots give thieves access
Burdette called the police and was alarmed at what she learned. Mason Jar, like many restaurants have video surveillance of their parking lots. "I had parked in a blind spot. The deputy told me that these criminals know the blind spots," says Burdette.
Where NOT to park
Burdette was told by the officer never to park facing a major highway or feeder road, and to avoid parking in blind spots that cameras don't cover, both of which she did.
When Burdette posted on her Facebook page about the break-in, many other Katy residents confirmed they had also been victims of car break-ins at various Katy area restaurants including Mason Jar, Whiskey Cake Cafe, and Uncle Julio's. Other readers have reported frequent car break-ins at Saltgrass Steakhouse, Babins, Chili's, and Cheddars parking lots as well.
Other rashes of break-ins
While this incident occurred in Harris County, other areas of Katy have also reported vehicle break-ins during the daytime when people would least expect it.
"Every area has sporadic rashes of break-ins, but I would say our problem areas are more frequently in fitness centers and apartments," says Chad Norvell, Fort Bend County's Criminal Law Enforcement Bureau Commander.
Tips for preventing car break-ins
Although there is no way to be 100% safe, here are some ways to lower your chances of being the victim of a car break-in:
Assume you're being watched. Often times crooks are watching, so don't stay in your car hiding things or open your trunk to place valuables inside. They will simply pop your trunk after breaking the window.
Do not leave valuables in sight or in the car at all. This may seem like common sense, but it's worth repeating.
Don't store items in trunk. If you must store things in your trunk, do not let potential thieves see you do this. "If you're going to secure items in your trunk, try to do it before you're at the destination," says Norvell. "Thieves might be watching, and trunks are usually accessible from the backseat."
Don't park in blind areas or facing a major freeway or feeder. Thieves know where the blind spots are and tend to hit the same places repeatedly. Parking facing a major street gives thieves the fastest access to your car and the best chance for a quick exit.
Burdette is trying to help get the word out and warn other business professionals who may be targeted. She is working with authorities and now has a witness who may have seen the theft.
Katy Magazine reached out to Mason Jar restaurant and Harris County Sheriff's office for comments, but have not heard back.