Car break-ins in Santa Clara are on the rise and police want people to remember, even if thieves can’t see your valuables, they can get to them.
“Every car now has a trunk release inside…that’s not a safe place either, the trunk,” said Lt. Todd Cummins of the Santa Clara Police Department (SCPD). “If [people] could just make sure they don’t leave their stuff in the cars, that’d be great.”
The City has recorded 748 thefts from vehicles between Jan. 1, 2019 and Mar. 10, 2019. That’s a 125.3 percent increase over the same timeframe in 2018. Cummins says the department hasn’t seen the same increase in home or commercial burglaries.
To try and fight back against the rise in car burglaries, police have increased patrols in high traffic shopping centers like the Mercado Shopping Center on Mission College Boulevard.
“It’s the larger locations. Mercado’s a larger location,” said Cummins. “It’s those larger shopping centers. You think about it, you’re not going to go fishing unless there’s fish. They go to the big places where there’s a lot of fish. That’s kind of how they’ve been hitting us.”
Officers are working with shopping centers like Mercado to make sure that guests are well aware that there’s an increase in vehicle break-ins. The In-N-Out Burger at Mercado has a large sandwich board sign near its entrance, warning people to take their valuables out of their cars. While signs throughout the parking lot warn drivers to, “Take your keys. Remove your valuables. Lock your vehicle.”
SCPD says it has interrupted two thefts from vehicles while they were happening. In both instances, the suspects crashed into police cruisers or other vehicles while trying to escape. One person was arrested, but police are still looking for other suspects. No one was injured in any of the incidents.
In addition to new signage, officers are using burglary statistics to try and determine where thieves will be and when.
“It kind of depends on the day and time,” said Cummins. “Since we know the times, we’ve actually created a pending call. We automatically dispatch [patrol] officers out to those locations at the time that location is busy — day of the week and time — with the hopes of catching somebody and at least minimally, we’re hoping to at least be a deterrent.”
Cummins says while the proactive approach has had some effect, there are things the public can do as well.
“The biggest thing is we’d like to get the public to stop leaving so much expensive stuff in their cars,” said Cummins.
He also suggests hiding any loose change, cell phones, gym bags, wallets, purses, garage remotes and sunglasses. You should make sure you remove cell phones, iPads, and laptops from your vehicles because thieves can locate signals from the devices even when they’re in “sleep mode.” Always lock your vehicle and if you see someone breaking into a car, call 9-1-1.
If you are a victim of a vehicle break-in, you can report it on the police website, at the police station during business hours or by calling (408) 615-5580.
The city should offer rewards. Perhaps the homeless would participate and do everyone some good. They could be extra eyes in the parking lots as many of them are already there.