The world for car thieves in Tarrant County just got harder.
For the first time in Texas, a prosecutor has been appointed to work with a regional auto crimes task force and only prosecute auto theft cases.
Tarrant County Assistant Criminal District Attorney Zane Reid has been named to the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force as a way to better prevent these crimes in the area, authorities said.
“We are dealing with a very, very evolving field of auto crimes now,” said Bryan Sudan, commander of the Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force, in a Tuesday news release from the Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney’s Office. “Older cars, the ones you can mechanically steal, are aging out. We are seeing professional thieves using alternate methods to steal cars.”
Authorities said thieves are using fake identification to buy cars, reprogram fobs to steal vehicles and stealing an increasing number of auto parts such as catalytic converters.
“We are now seeing very organized groups using sophisticated methods to steal vehicles,” Sudan said. “We need more coordination with the prosecution of these cases.”
Crimes related to motor vehicles have been on the increase in recent years in Tarrant County. Fraud-related motor vehicle crimes reached 56 in 2020, up from 52 in 2019, according to statistics from the task force.
In Tarrant County, motor vehicle thefts rose to 6,367 in 2020 from 5,895 in 2019. Burglaries from motor vehicles grew to 14,288 in 2020 from 13,884 in 2019.
“These aren’t minor thefts,” Tarrant County Criminal District Attorney Sharen Wilson said in the news release. “With the rising cost of vehicles, these thefts have a major impact on individuals and businesses. We need to do everything we can to stop these thefts.”
In the past, auto theft cases were sent to the criminal district attorney’s office and assigned to various prosecutors. All will now go to Reid, who will be able to spot trends or see if there are multiple cases involving the same defendant that should be grouped together.
“My goal will be to provide greater consistency and availability to our law enforcement agencies to ensure successful prosecution,” said Reid, who has been with the criminal district attorney’s office since 2015. “The hope is to increase the prosecution rate and strength of sentences for auto crimes committed in Tarrant County and the surrounding area.”
Authorities said that auto cases add up to millions of dollars of loss from theft and involve multiple agencies across the Dallas/Fort Worth area.
The Tarrant Regional Auto Crimes Task Force began in 1993 to combat motor vehicle theft. It is made up of investigators in the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, Parker County Sheriff’s Office, National Insurance Crime Bureau and police departments in Arlington, Fort Worth, Hurst, Haltom City and Euless.
“Through the dedication of a prosecutor to the MVCPA-funded law enforcement task force, Tarrant County is better able to seek justice for its citizens and the people of Texas,” said Laredo Assistant Chief of Police Miguel “Mike” Rodriguez, the governor-appointed chairman of the Motor Vehicle Crime Prevention Authority.