Fob Fallacies: Auto Thefts Up with New Tech

The Park Cities are known in the Dallas area as safe communities where the most common crimes are low-level offenses like petty theft.

That may be in part because Highland Park and University Park have two of only three or four law enforcement agencies in the state that offer direct alarm monitoring, which means the University Park Police Department and the Highland Park Department of Public Safety (HPDPS) monitor home and business alarm system alerts in the Park Cities directly from their dispatch centers.

“The benefit (of direct alarm monitoring) is…that (it) saves time,” Highland Park public information officer Lance Koppa said. “(Response happens) the moment signals are received.

The town of Highland Park requires residents and businesses within the town limits to register their alarms. The fees are $28 for alarm signal monitoring by landline telephone, $35 for cellular line service, or $35 for a cellular line with landline service as a backup.

Koppa said there are 1,176 subscribers to the town’s direct alarm monitoring service, which the department of public safety has offered since 1987. The city of University Park had 3,222 direct alarm customers at the end of 2019.

The University Park Police Department has offered the service since 1999.

Alarm monitoring by phone line only in University Park is $25 per month or $32 for a landline with backup cellular radio alarm.

It probably wouldn’t surprise many Park Cities residents to know that property crimes, like theft, are the most common type seen by HPDPS and the UPPD.

Savage said the University Park Police Department had seen an uptick in auto thefts in the last year from 40 in 2018 to 50 in 2019.

He attributes the uptick in part to more residents with newer vehicles with keyless entry.

“People are leaving key fobs in their cars,” Savage said. “We had an education program encouraging people not to leave their key fobs in their cars.”

Savage and Koppa offered more tips to help Park Cities residents avoid becoming victims of property crime.

Aside from keeping keys with you, Savage said it’s important to remember to lock doors, both to homes and vehicles, even when you’re home, be aware of surroundings, and keep valuables out of sight in your car.

Koppa said residents could also increase the chances their valuables are recovered by having items like jewelry appraised and keeping note of unique qualities about each piece, as well as maintaining a record of serial numbers on firearms and electronics.

He said adequate outdoor lighting could also help prevent property crimes.

Both Savage and Koppa encouraged residents to report suspicious activity. The Highland Park Department of Public Safety non-emergency line is 214-521-5000, and the University Park Police Department’s non-emergency line is 214-363-3000.

Rachel Snyder

Rachel Snyder, deputy editor at People Newspapers, joined the staff in 2019, returning to her native Dallas-Fort Worth after starting her career at community newspapers in Oklahoma. One of her stories won first place in its category in the Oklahoma Press Association’s Better Newspaper Contest in 2018. She’s a fan of puns and community journalism, not necessarily in that order. You can reach her at rachel.snyder@peoplenewspapers.com

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