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    Law enforcement notices spike in tailgate thefts; requests public's help with prevention efforts

    Several North Texas law enforcement agencies have noticed an increasing trend of tailgate thefts from pickup trucks.  The most commonly stolen tailgates are from newer model (2010 and above), full-size pickup trucks, predominately US manufactured, including Ford, Dodge, Chevrolet and GMC.  White also appears to be the color most commonly taken.
    "Texas is a target-rich environment for this type of offense," says Sgt. Matt Pedersen, Enforcement Team Leader for the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force.  "The demand for full-size truck tailgates is certainly there, so crooks are looking to capitalize by providing supply at cheaper cost."
    Of particular interest to criminals are tailgates that possess a rear view camera and built-in step.  The replacement cost of tailgates with these added features through legitimate businesses can run a few thousand dollars, whereas a criminal can make several hundred dollars by offering stolen tailgates through Internet sites, one-on-one sales and swap meets.
    According to Sgt. Pedersen, one of the issues faced by law enforcement is that tailgates often lack unique identifying numbers that can be cross-referenced to the trucks that they came from.
    "We have often come across tailgates at chop shops, private residences or businesses during investigations, but without a way to trace them back to the trucks they came from, we are unable to link them to offenses and potential offenders," says Pedersen.
    Law enforcement has stepped up its efforts in detecting and identifying thieves, and several arrests have been made, but the problem persists.  Citizens can assist law enforcement in preventing these thefts by taking three proactive measures to protect their trucks' tailgates:
    1. Lock it - by using the existing, manufacturer's lock or investing in an after-market locking device that prevents the tailgate's removal.
    2. Park it - in well-lit areas, where it can monitored from inside your residence, in a garage or in a manner that prevents the tailgate from being opened.
    3. Mark it - by engraving the vehicle identification number (VIN)
    The Task Force also encourages citizens to report suspicious activity to local law enforcement or contact Crime Stoppers at (817) 469-TIPS (8477) to report individuals suspected of committing tailgate thefts.

    For more information contact Sgt. Matt Pedersen, Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force, 817-560-6560.