We noted the surge in auto burglaries and associated crimes last year, and documented the apparent effect city and citizen-owned surveillance cameras appeared to be having – but police in Lafayette say that downtrend was an anomaly and that the burglars are back – big time.
Lafayette Police Chief Eric Christensen opened a recent neighborhood bulletin this way: “For the first quarter of 2017, we have seen a 100% increase in the number of auto burglaries when compared to 2016…”
Commercial burglaries are also spiking when compared to the same time period last year – with a 75% increase in this crime category.
That’s a pretty significant commitment of effort on the part of the bad guys, the chief noted, saying now he believes that the thieves among us were merely busy in other areas during the apparent downturn in crime in our area.
“…what can we learn by looking at the data?” Christensen wrote. “First, the burglaries are all concentrated in the downtown area. This is actually a good thing as many of our downtown businesses have cameras that show their parking lots – so our investigators have a chance of solving the crimes. The burglaries are also all grouped around several days – showing that a group comes into town and does several auto burglaries on the same night. Finally, the burglars have not been getting a lot of value for their efforts.”
But recent data accumulated by the department also shows that “crews” coming to the area to burgle cars are staying, and sometimes upping the ante by entering and stealing from local homes – at times with the residents inside.
Data shows that a lot of the car burglaries occur on a Friday night, when locals glad to be free from work leave their bag or computer in their car for a meal or drinks. The burglars, police say, know this and have been recorded deliberately cruising specific parking lots looking for cars where the owners are likely to be so occupied. After spotting a likely target they break the car window with an entry device, make off with the purse or back pack are are usually on the freeway within minutes – unless they decide to stay around town.
Although many residents appear to have heeded repeated warnings from police to lock valuables in their trunks or to keep them on their person, thieves continue to perceive the area as a “rich” hunting ground – the town’s only reported kidnapping and robbery in recent memory occurring after a criminal came to Lafayette because it was “affluent.”
Police continue to drive home messaging they hope residents will take to heart and make them less likely to be victimized, such as locking up cars and residences and taking steps to ensure nothing of value is left easily accessible to someone who may be all too willing to take it from you.
Residents who want to ensure the most expeditious police response in the event they see or are the victim of the crime have been asked to program the police dispatch number into their telephones (925) 284-5010.