Waco: Auto Theft Task Force hopes state will provide promised funds

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WACO, Texas (KWTX) Texas motorists pay a $2 fee that’s added to their auto insurance policies that’s supposed to fund the Texas Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority, but most of the fee isn’t going for what it was intended.

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The Texas Legislature approved a $1 fee in 1991 to be added to every auto insurance policy in Texas to fund what was then the Auto Theft Prevention Authority, which was designed to work side-by-side with county sheriff’s offices to battle auto thefts.

In 2011, the Legislature upped the fee to $2, but the administrator of the Heart of Texas Auto Theft Task Force, Michelle Snyder, says, that money that people think is going to fund the fight on motor vehicle crimes, is not.

"It’s still out there on your insurance policy you'll see at the very bottom in small print that it says it's two dollar fees collected and sent to the automobile burglary and theft prevention authority, but it's not going there."

The state is taking $1.25 of each $2 fee and using it to help balance the state budget, she says.

Snyder says she just wishes the newly named Auto Burglary and Theft Prevention Authority would get at least $1 of that.

"I mean there are some legislators out there that are fighting to get this money back for us that they do agree that it's wrong for them to be doing this. The less vehicles that are stolen, less claims are filed then hopefully our rates won't go up."

A five-member task force serves Limestone, McLennan, Coryell, Lampasas and Burnet Counties.

"We need to be able to keep up with the technology that the crooks are using and if we can't replace equipment because we don't have the funds to do so it gets hard,” Snyder said.

"And we've made a huge decline in vehicle theft in the state since this authority has been established." Snyder adds.

Limestone County Sheriff Dennis Wilson, who is now the president of the Texas Sheriff's Association says the officers on the task force are crucial to his battle on crime.

“It an increase in manpower and they are very very good at what they do,” he said.