Watch Those Pickup Tailgates! Car Pro News

Tailgate theftAnybody with a lick of sense knows you don’t mess with Texans and their pickup trucks, but some coldhearted, money-grubbing bandits aren’t taking that message to heart.
Across the Lone Star State — and in the heart of Dallas-Fort Worth — marauders are stealing tailgates by the thousands.
A nationwide tally of tailgate theft insurance claims rose 18 percent from 2011 to 2012, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an Illinois-based nonprofit funded by insurance companies to investigate thefts and fraud.
Texas was the hardest-hit, with Houston, San Antonio and Dallas topping the list of tailgate claims reported between Jan. 1, 2006, and Sept. 30, 2012.
The insurance claims don’t come close to revealing what’s actually happening on streets across America, said Frank Scafidi, a spokesman for the insurance crime bureau.
He said most truck owners don’t bother filing a claim. “It is going to be an underrepresentation of the actuality,” he said.
A slew of local law enforcement agencies can attest to that.
In Euless, Texas, for example, at least 35 tailgates have been stolen since the end of December, said Lt. Eric J. Starnes.
“They’re easy to steal,” said Starnes, who works in the Police Department’s criminal investigations division. “These guys can unhitch a tailgate in about 30 seconds.”
The tailgates, which retail from around $1,000 to more than $4,000 for ones tricked up with cameras, then are dumped on the black market for a fraction of the cost.
Detectives say the tailgates, especially those left unlocked, are tempting to criminals because they come off easily and typically have no identifying marks.
“Our property crimes manager put it this way: They’re like the T-tops of our generation,” said Dallas police Senior Cpl. Sherri Jeffrey.
Dallas recorded 260 tailgate thefts in 2011, and through Sept. 26 of last year, 246 were reported, Jeffrey said.
“On average, we’re getting about 250 to 260 a year,” Jeffrey said.
Some departments are cracking down on the thefts by searching scrap yards and surveying online sites such as Craigslist, said police Detective Jeff Freeman.
“It takes about 10 seconds to take them off and sell them,” Freeman said.
Local law enforcement agencies said they can’t see a pattern to the tailgate crimes. Nationally, Ford trucks — the popular F-250 and F-150 — are prime targets, according to the insurance crime bureau.
Late-model Chevys, Dodges and other types of trucks also have been targeted, police in the Dallas-Fort Worth area say.
Police said the best advice they can give residents is to lock their tailgates and, if they don’t have a lock, buy one. They also urge pickup owners to etch an identifying mark or serial number on their tailgates.
“Things without a serial number are put in the marketplace and there’s no way to track it,” said Starnes, the Euless police lieutenant. “Locking the tailgate — prevention — goes a long way.”
Scafidi, the spokesman for the insurance crime bureau, said that while the mounting tailgate thefts are nothing “to jump in the Rio Grande about,” they’re bound to leave a bad taste in every rugged pickup driver’s mouth.


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