AUSTIN (KXAN) — This year, Alfredo Valladolid was looking forward to his BMW hitting the 20-year mark. It was a milestone he was hoping to cash in on.

“I was hoping to get some money, and I ended up losing money on it,” Valladolid said.

One morning in late February, he went to check on the luxury car only to find it was gone.

Across Austin, auto thefts are up compared to last year. In Valladolid’s neighborhood of southeast Austin, thefts are up 39%. Downtown has seen the highest spike — 85%. Thefts are still up in central and northwest Austin, but not as much, at 18%.

“The vast majority of vehicles are stolen, either left running to run inside a building for a short period of time. And it can happen in a blink of an eye,” said Austin Police Auto Theft Unit Detective Francisco Jimenez.

Jimenez added recently they’ve seen a spike in thieves stealing rental cars.

“Like the virtual ones as far as like it could be like Avail Car Sharing and Turo, just those type of vehicle rental methods because a lot of those vehicles are rented virtually. A lot of our big offenders who steal cars commit a lot of fraud,” he said.

If your car is stolen, the first thing you should do is call 911. An officer will then enter your vehicle’s information into a national database. If found, Jimenez said sometimes auto theft victims have to suffer the cost of getting it back.

“If they’re found unoccupied, then the keys are not with the vehicle, and then our victims again have to pay to get their vehicle rekeyed,” Jimenez said. “So you get your car stolen, you have to pay an impound fee and then you have to pay to get your car reef rekeyed.”

Something Valladolid said he learned that the hard way after recovering his BMW a week later. He now wishes he would have “listened to your wife more because she was telling me to get rid of it a long time ago.”

Auto thefts in your neighborhood

Austin Police divides the city into 10 sectors.

Austin Police divides the city into 10 sectors.
Austin Police divides the city into 10 sectors.

Citywide, auto thefts are up 38% when comparing the latest monthly data from March of this year to last.

Here’s a breakdown by sector using March 2022 data.

  • Adam — Year-over-year: up 26%
  • Baker — Year-over-year: up 18%
  • Charlie — Year-over-year: up 47%
  • David — Year-over-year: up 29%
  • Edward — Year-over-year: up 55%
  • Frank — Year-over-year: up 39%
  • George — Year-over-year: up 85%
  • Henry — Year-over-year: up 39%
  • Ida — Year-over-year: up 38%