Like a taxi cab in the city and perhaps the minivan in the suburbs, a U-Haul truck in the neighborhood may not immediately raise suspicions, police said Monday, but recent events have shown that perhaps they should.
“We have noticed a couple of times now people renting U-Haul vans and essentially living in them, and twice now we have come across them in Orinda,” Orinda Police Chief Mark Nagel pointed out Monday, a week after his officers came across two crews of suspected shoplifters/burglars living in – and apparently working from – one of the rental vans.
“Figure you can rent a van for $20 a month and have a mobile home for a month (or longer),” Nagel said. “The vans have mattress pads and all of their clothing in the back…”
Orinda PD stopped two such crews last week, one after the occupants allegedly stole items from the Moraga Safeway store and the other when it was found parked with occupants inside in the Orinda Rite-Aid parking lot.
“…Frequently, when the vans are searched, there is stolen property, the people are homeless, the van is late to be returned or listed as stolen,” Nagel said.
Police advise residents to note the location and identifying information of a van if it moves into your neighborhood, and to observe and report any outwards signs that people may be living inside – such as cardboard used to blackout the windows or the disposal of waste in the immediate area.