The good news is that one crew of connected and brazen auto burglars was identified after a theft and their car impounded. The bad news is that another, apparently unrelated group of “Bears” is still apparently at work in the city.
Chief Eric Christensen and his team are launching a “Don’t Feed the Bears” campaign in Lafayette after a series of high profile break-ins across town, a flurry that has resulted in some very handsome windfalls for crooks who work quickly and silently – and has caused crime report numbers to spike.
“So far this year, we have had 58 auto burglaries reported within the city,” Chief Christensen wrote. “The majority of these burglaries have occurred in the downtown core of the city, during business hours. This type of crime is completely PREVENTABLE – if there is nothing for the crooks to steal, they will move to another location to do their crimes.”
We get it, and have been cautioning readers and anyone else who listens about how ill-advised it is to leave your work computer, large amounts of cash or favorite Stratocaster in plain view on the back seat of your car while you go off for a long lunch.
In one recent case on Thursday, June 11, a visitor arrived in town for dinner, placed his new laptop on the back seat of his car, covered it with an article of clothing from one of the two backpacks he had on the back seat – and returned to find the rear window of his car broken and the items that had once been on the back seat of the car missing.
Police were able to track a suspicious car in the area at the time and moved in when that group apparently returned to the area on June 16 after an alert customer at a local grocery store saw three subjects “casing” cars in the store parking lot. Officers watched the group and noted that they moved away from a car they had taken an interest in after receiving a phone call. Officers observed a woman in the area of the previously identified suspect vehicle and believed she was serving as lookout – observing police activity and tipping the core group of thieves.
Police moved in, impounded the car and a search warrant was obtained for the vehicle. A search resulted in the discovery of evidence linking the vehicle to the previous auto burglary and investigators are now working to link the three subjects to that crime, Christensen said. They mistakenly left DNA on the victim vehicle.
While that case may have been cause for minor celebration, police said another very prolific burglar went to work in town on Friday, June 19 at 4 p.m., breaking in to several cars along Mt. Diablo Boulevard, across from the cemetery.
Police said they found six cars with their windows broken out and of those six two had property removed from them. The remaining four vehicles had been entered, but nothing had been taken. All of the vehicles belonged to employees of a neighboring business. Officers processed the vehicles for evidence and were able to locate several locations where the suspect had bled. It appears the suspect likely cut himself while breaking the window of one of the vehicles. Officers were able to locate latent prints and collect samples of the blood, which will now be submitted to the crime lab for analysis.