Thursday, November 29, 2007

Police say auto burglaries on the rise


A recent spate of auto burglaries over the past two months has Santa Barbara Police asking residents to lock valuables inside their vehicle’s trunk and report suspicious activity to police.
Lt. Paul McCaffrey, a police spokesman, said the normal 15 to 20 reported burglaries in any one-month has spiked to 40 this month.

“The vast number of these cases are smash and grab, where suspects can get in and get out in seconds,” McCaffrey said. “The method used to break the window varies from pry bars, other tools that leave not trace, and even rocks or bricks.”
He said the heaviest hit areas include the downtown parking garages, streets surrounding Santa Barbara City College and upper eastside neighborhoods. He cautioned that these incidents have been reported in several other areas of the city as well.
McCaffrey said the one thing that ties the majority of the burglaries together is that valuables were left in plain sight. He said the most common items stolen have been iPods, followed by wallets, purses, backpacks and other small electronics.
“In some cases, the burglary victim hid their iPod but left the distinctive white colored cord plugged into the stereo,” McCaffrey said. “In other cases, it appears the suspect may have watched the victim stuff a purse or valuables under the seat before leaving the vehicle unattended.”
He said most of the burglaries have occurred at night.
While police have arrested three people in the past two weeks in connection with “smash-and-grab’ burglaries, McCaffrey said the number of thefts have continued to climb.
During a mock auto burglary staged by police in June, a detective dressed as a burglar broke the window of a Ford Tauras with a special tool, stole a laptop and other valuables and casually walked away. The entire incident took no longer than 10 seconds.

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