(PASADENA, Texas) — High gas prices are not the only things customers have to fear at the pump; theives targeting unlocked cars may also be a cause for concern.
In Pasadena, Texas, at least four gas station thefts have been reported in November alone, Pasadena Police Department spokesman Vance Mitchell said.
“What happens is people pull into a service station, get out of the car and plug in their card or pay inside, and some do not lock their doors,” he said. “They leave their purses or other valuables in the front seat, and thieves get in their cars and are gone in less than seconds.”
One of the four cases reported involved a woman who went to pump gas and left her car unlocked because her grandchild was in the back. A thief entered her vehicle and grabbed her purse from the car.
Surveillance video of the Nov. 6 robbery, released by the Pasadena Police Department, shows a gold Cadillac pulling up to the woman’s van and then speeding off with her purse — all in less than 10 seconds.
Mitchell said during the holiday season it is even more important for drivers to lock their cars at the pump to avoid being robbed.
“Be especially careful of your surroundings, lock your doors and don’t make items in your car visible,” Mitchell said. “Also, if you put objects in the trunk make sure to do it ahead of time to avoid someone seeing you. This also leads to robberies.”
If a driver does notice their car being robbed, Mitchell said to not confront the thief because people do not know what weapons, if any, the robber might have.
“I would tell them to go inside the store, try and get a license plate number, and call the police,” he said. “It is not worth losing your life for a purse or other object.”
Mitchell said this string of robberies has ended for now, with no more reported incidents in Pasadena since November.
He cautions drivers to be diligent while at the pump and reiterated that the best way to avoid robberies is to “lock your doors.”
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Eric Bradner, CNN
Brian Stelter, CNN
Nate Eaton, EastIdahoNews.com