LUBBOCK, Texas — With car thefts on the rise in the U.S. and Texas having the second highest thefts so far this year, visited the South Plains Auto Theft Task Force to see the state of car thefts in Lubbock County.

According to Brian McNeill, an investigator with South Plains Auto Theft Task Force, auto thefts in Lubbock County have gone down 22% compared to last year. So far, 829 cars have been stolen this year.

Even though auto theft numbers are down, McNeill said it’s crucial to think ahead so that theft doesn’t happen in the first place. One way to do this is by using “The Club” which is a lock for a steering wheel. It keeps thieves from steering and deters them from approaching a car in the first place.

“If you have two similar vehicles parked next to each other, one has the club and one does not, they’re gonna steal the one that takes less time to steal and that’ll be the one without the club,” McNeill said.

However, McNeill says that’s not the only way to keep people from stealing a car. He said most thieves will look in the windows for valuables and keys. Many times, thieves will find an unlocked door, get in the car and attempt to turn it on with the hope that there’s a key left in there.

“Get your keys out of your vehicle. Get your valuables out of your vehicle,” McNeill said. “If they don’t see valuables inside your vehicle, they’re less likely to try to get into your vehicle.”

He also said it helps to lock the car in the first place, but thieves will typically break through a window if they see valuables inside.

According to McNeill, five to six cars are stolen in Lubbock on average daily. The most common cars stolen are Hyundai’s and Kia’s that are key started since thieves have figured out a way to force the ignition.

When a car is stolen, McNeill said thieves will try to sell the vehicle or use it to commit more crimes since it’s much harder to find a link back to them if they’re driving a stolen vehicle.

A lot of times, the task force is able to find the vehicle. Its recovery rate is between 86% and 88%.

If your car is stolen, McNeill said it’s crucial to call local law enforcement so that they can begin looking for it as soon as possible.