SAN ANTONIO - A burglar by trade comes clean exclusively to News 4 San Antonio's Randy Beamer.If you have something you'd like the News 4 San Antonio Crime Tracker team to check out, e-mail us. If you would like to have an e-mail alert daily or weekly about crime in a 2 miles radius of your home or would like to research crime in your neighborhood, use our Crime Tracker Tool...
He says he has to think "outside the box" when he's on the prowl for a car to break into, like using the cover or rain, when his victims are more worried about getting inside to a dry place and forget to lock their cars. Since the criminal has to think outside the box, we thought you should, too, so you don't become the next victim.
Randy asked this career car burglar to give us a look at the tools in his box in a sit-down interview, where we had to hide his face and disguise his voice so that people in his inner circle won't recognize him. We have been calling him "Thad", which is a made-up name. He walked us through how he picks homes recently. You can see part one of our special report by clicking here.
As for picking cars, he says he usually goes for cars sitting in neighborhoods because people are mainly inside watching TV.
"People are hypnotized by something else in life," explains Thad.
Usually, he would hit between 2:00 and 4:30am because by 4:45, people start waking up, getting the kids ready for school and heading off to work.
He targeted SUV's because, in his mind, there could be something very valuable inside. He also goes for what he describes as "nicer" vehicles because they normally come with better audio equipment and maybe an I-Pod or other electronic.
"The first thing I look for is either money, music, equipment things that have value and car keys," Thad says, "Some people leave car keys in the car. I don't start it up. I put it in neutral. Roll it off the hill or whatever. Soon as I hit the street, start it up and I'm gone."
Randy Beamer: "What do you do with the car?"
Thad: "Pick up women (laughs). Go buy drugs, you know? I use it for doing other cars and everything, so if someone gets a license plate, it's not the person in the vehicle, it's the person who owns the vehicle."
Here is his order of priorities: The glove compartment, then the consoles, areas around the lighter, and between the seats, then he'll search for hidden compartments and then finally the trunk, taking less than two minutes typically to do so.
While we've reported on some shopping center and gym parking lots being targeted lately, this particular burglar preferred to hit closer to your home, specifically gated communities.
Randy Beamer: Parked on the street compared to parking in the drive way..."
Thad: "I prefer parked in the driveway because you have more of an opportunity, if a car passed by. They won't really see you, but if they did see somebody in a driveway at a car, they'll think that's just their car. That's where they live."
I won't tell you how he gets into your car, but he told me and it's surprisingly easy, even if you have an alarm. So, how would he protect his car?
"Park it in respectable spots. Like try to park it as close to your animals," he explains, "It's best to put your car either by an animal that could at least give you a hint that someone is out here, someone is messing with your vehicle or a spotlight." That spotlight makes an already nervous thief jump and run, usually.
Randy Beamer: "They always say hide your valuables..."
Thad: "umm hmmm. Hide your valuables. The best thing to do is take your valuables in your house."