Mother worries car thieves are targeting parents at school drop-offs

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PFLUGERVILLE, Texas (KXAN) — A woman is warning other busy parents that thieves may target their vehicles when they drop off their children at school. 

On October 1 Stephanie Hernandez loaded up her arms and hurriedly took her one-year-old daughter into daycare at The Children’s Courtyard in Pflugerville. She made the mistake of leaving behind her purse in the passenger seat, which someone stole in the few minutes before she returned to her SUV. 

“I had left the car unlocked, as I usually do,” Hernandez said, “because you’re at a daycare center and you feel like you’re safe, somewhere that you can be trusted.” 

After reporting her stolen purse to Pflugerville police, Hernandez posted about what happened in an active Facebook group for local mothers. To her surprise, several women responded and said they had the same thing happen to them on the very same day. 

One woman, who asked not to be identified, told KXAN that someone smashed her van’s windows and stole a bag when she dropped her child at a different location for The Children’s Courtyard in Austin. 

Lydia Cisaruk, the director of communication for The Children’s Courtyard, released the following statement from the company regarding the car break-ins: 

“The safety and wellbeing of our families and children is of the utmost importance to us. 

We are partnering with the authorities as they investigate the recent theft, and evaluating potential opportunities to further strengthen security.

As we’ve discussed with our families, we recognize that thieves often target convenience stores, gas stations, schools and other establishments where people tend to make quick stops – with the expectation that those who are in a hurry won’t take the time for precautionary safety measures.   

Following safety precautions wherever you may be can help deter theft.  As a general rule, in any parking lot, it’s always best to turn your car off, roll your windows up, hide your valuables, lock your car doors and, of course, never leave children inside unattended. “

These burglaries happened while the Williamson County Sheriff’s Office announced Sunday that deputies are looking for a woman captured on surveillance using stolen credit cards. Deputies said the cards were taken after someone broke the windows of two vehicles parked at the Learning Center in Round Rock.

It’s unclear if these break-ins are at all related, but Pflugerville police said what happened to Hernandez is the only report of its kind in their city recently. However, officers always urge people to take the following precautions to protect their vehicles — hide your things, lock your car and take your keys.

Hernandez said she hopes parents will keep their guards up.

“It’s unfortunate that things like that have to happen in order for you to be better prepared,” she said, “but they’re preying on women and on mothers, which is pretty sad.”

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