Houston police are working to crackdown on a dedicated group of criminals targeting women who are distracted at gas stations and day cares.
Police said these crooks have sneaked into cars all over Houston and have even earned the nick-name, "sliders."
Houston police officer Jim Woods explained this group of criminals primarily stakes out gas stations and watches for women who leave their purses on the passenger side of the car and the doors unlocked while they pump gas. Woods said the crooks will park at a gas pump across from their victim and pretend to be another customer.
According to Woods, while a woman is distracted at the pump a person from the other car will get out, crouch down and 'slide' over to open the woman's door, grab the purse and take off. Many of these crimes happen without a victim ever realizing they've been burglarized until after the crooks are gone.
"They say it's sliding because they're sliding below the eye level of the door," said Woods.
HPD records show for the past two years there have been an average of just under 30,000 car burglaries each year. Woods said they've seen an increase in 'sliding' over the last three years. Crooks have found it more lucrative to break into a car rather than try to steal the car, and are preying on a common misapprehension.
"I'm right next to my car so nobody is going to try to break in when I'm standing right next to my own car?" said Local 2 Investigator Robert Arnold.
"That's exactly it, that's exactly what they're looking at," said Woods.
Woods said many of these burglaries can be prevented if people lock their car doors and either hide their purse or take it with them while pumping gas.
"Your vehicle is not a secure location for your belongings," said Woods.
Wood said many of these thieves will avoid confrontation and won't target a car that's difficult to break into or if they think a person is paying attention to who is around them.