Police give shoppers report cards

Published On: Nov 21 2012 04:45:33 PM CST   Updated On: Nov 21 2012 05:39:36 PM CST
cop looking into car
HOUSTON -

After all the Thanksgiving travel, comes the hectic holiday shopping season. And while you shop, crooks go to work.

That's why Houston police officers were out Wednesday helping drivers get a head start on the thieves by catching mistakes with their vehicles.

"We survey cars just to remind everybody not to leave things of value exposed," said HPD officer James Sobota. "The crooks are out shopping, too."

Car by car, Sgt. R. Wilson patroled a Walmart parking lot in the Heights. Wilson is not looking out with the eyes of a cop, but with the eyes of a crook.

"I'm looking for something someone is going to try and steal," Wilson said.

It didn't take long to find it. Wilson found GPS screens, power cords and packages that were all in plain sight in cars, trucks and SUVs. Wilson and other officers then serve shoppers with safety report cards on their car windshields that let them know how their vehicles might have fared if criminals were in the parking lot instead of police.

"We usually average about a 60-percent failure rate," said Wilson.

It's all part of the "Safe Shopping Starts with You" campaign. It's a joint effort by HPD and Houston retailers like Walmart, H-E-B, Kroger, Fiesta, Randalls, Target, Walgreens, CVS and the Greater Houston Loss Prevention Alliance.

"We want to put the focus on your vehicles and personal safety as you enter retail stores and while you're in retail stores," said Chief Charles McClelland. "We want to make sure we redouble our efforts to keep the public safe."