The Victim: Jay Spence
The Crime: Burglary of a motor vehicle
Date: Thursday, Nov. 11
Time: Between 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Location: 6400 block of Mockingbird

The car break-in ruined the night out.

“I had just gone out to dinner with my kids to Luby’s,” Jay Spence says of the night he became a victim.

Luby’s is only a short drive, maybe a mile, from his Briarcreek Lane home. The cafeteria-style eatery seemed like a nice choice for his family that night. A chicken-fried steak with mashed potatoes or a Luann platter might be nice. Maybe they’d grab a piece of pie or cake for dessert. He and his children spent maybe 30 minutes dining before heading back out to the car to return home.

“I parked in a really well-lit area,” Spence recalls. “I came out about 7:30, and saw the radio had been taken and that wires were hanging out.”

The burglars had pried open the front passenger door, and then tried to access the ignition to take the car. In the process, they ruined the starter and damaged the steering column.

Police told Spence that this was the second car break-in they had responded to at that location recently. Spence estimated the loss would set him back a couple thousand dollars. In addition to the stereo, the burglar also made off with some headphones and an iPhone charging cable.

“I feel really lucky because in the back of the Tahoe, I had my $1,000 laptop hidden in the rear of the car with all the pictures of my kids,” he says. “And I’m lucky to still have the car.”

Dallas Police Lt. Mackie D. Ham of the Northeast Patrol Division says that in most instances it takes only about 30 seconds or so to break into a car, and fewer if they break the window.

“Most of these criminals walk the parking lots looking into vehicles,” he says. “When they spot items inside of the car such as a laptop or other item, they then break out the window or pop the lock on the door. This only takes a few seconds.”

The easiest prevention method is to not leave any items inside.

“Criminals do not readily stand out. They dress like everyone else, so therefore they blend in and hope that they are not noticed. When they are breaking into a vehicle, they will stand by the door and act as if they are the owner and are just about to unlock the car. They try to bring very little attention to themselves. When no one is looking, they will punch the door lock or quickly break the widow. Once inside of the vehicle, they usually take less than a minute or so to get what they want. We have actually had undercover officers watch these criminals as they break into vehicles, and sometimes it is so fast that the officers cannot readily tell if they actually broke into the vehicle or used a key.”

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