Car thefts rise on New Year's Eve, Day; how to protect yourself - WFXG FOX54 Augusta - Your News One Hour Earlier

Car thefts rise on New Year's Eve, Day; how to protect yourself

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AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) -

Whatever you plan to do to watch the ball drop this New Year's, make sure you don't drop the ball when it comes to protecting your vehicle from thieves.

It's not that difficult, says Richmond Co. Sheriff's Office Investigator Billy Dixon.

"You know, it's just kind of common sense," he says.

But car theft has become a major problem when we turn over the calendar.

According to the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB), New Year's Eve and New Year's Day are holidays with two of the highest vehicle theft rates.

The state of Georgia had the fifth highest holiday car theft totals in 2011.

Dixon has investigated vehicle theft in Richmond Co. for 15 years.

He says the ways to keep criminals out of your driver's seat are pretty simple.

"Lock your car. Take your keys with you. Don't leave a key in your car," he says. "Basically, just be cautious of your surroundings."

And if you do plan on parking your car overnight this New Year's, Dixon says it's best to leave it in a well-lit, well-populated area, and to pick it back up as soon as possible.

"Don't leave it out there for very long," he says. "Unfortunately, we have some people who will pick it up in a tow truck and it'll end up in a junkyard somewhere."

He says doing these things gives less opportunity to criminals who need very little of it to make a theft.

"We had a video of a subject," Dixon remembers of a theft from a few years ago. "He came down the sidewalk, 'slim-jimmed' the car, got in, busted the steering column, and drove off in less than 30 seconds."

Following his tips, he says, will help you have a better chance at starting a Happy New Year.

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