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.
“Only you can prevent forest fires.” Only you can prevent crime. Or at least take preventive measures.
@Danielle – We hope people take the appropriate steps. We’ve been getting hit pretty hard lately…
I remain bitter about the Dionne Warwick 8-track cassette recently stolen from my car. I mean if a thief will steal that then nothing is safe.
@Tom – Yes, that kinda yanked us off, too. Have some respect, people, Dionne is an icon…
They’re everywhere. And they don’t seem impressed with our efforts to keep them away.
Ladies hide your purses! I just don’t understand how you can leave everything sitting on the front seat in plain view while you spend hours at dinner. i see it all the time and try to say something when I can but I don’t think people want to listen.
Some of these crooks- especially the street types – on bicycles or skateboards- will break your car window for a few coins in your cup holder. I’ve seen it happen and they’re gone in 3 seconds! I’ve seen them steal prescription reading glasses in a 3-second smash and grab too.
The message is don’t leave anything I repeat anything in your car for them to take. Don’t leave a sweater in your car don’t think something’s under it that you’re protecting. Don’t leave a paper bag. Leave nothing!
More sophisticated thieves who cruise around in cars, might break into your car to steal your garage door opener and registration in your glove box so they could drive to your house when you’re not home open the garage door and have access to your home.
All this is very scary first-citizens and is a big headache for law enforcement agencies. You see, in California criminals are generally let back loose the same day and never spend jail time. I feel for every law enforcement officer, who have to try to hold the line
against this political and judicial mentality that wants to be soft on criminals. ( supposedly for ‘social justice’ and kindness) . It ain’t working!
I said it before, but I’d rather have the criminals being UNcomfortable in jail, than us good citizens to be uncomfortable where ever we go.
I agree 100%. I wonder what effect Propositions 47 and 57 have had on crime rates. How many of these culprits are already on parole/probation/warrant for a previous offense? The politicians in this state seem to prioritize “reducing jail overcrowding” (and have deluded the voters into agreeing with them) over keeping normal citizens safe. In my view, property crime in California has gotten out of control. If it were up to me, we would build more, bigger jails, and the mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time auto burglary conviction would be 1 year in jail, no early release, with cold-turkey treatment for the meth heads/drug addicts. Second offense gets you two years, third offense gets you three years, etc. For residential burglaries I would support at least 5 years of mandatory minimum sentence for a first-time conviction.
I think it’s pretty clear the cameras may be useful in prosecuting crimes but aren’t much of a deterrent to the current breed of criminal.
@Randy – While great aids in prosecuting folks caught on camera the presence of cameras in the area doesn’t seem to be dissuading many thieves. We’re still waiting for one to hold up a “Hi Mom!” sign as they pass in their pilfered getaway car… Don’t get us wrong, we’re believers, and have had cameras in place for years, and while they have helped us identify bad guys their presence doesn’t seem to keep the bad guys away.
People still have garage door openers? They don’t just use the built in feature found in most cars? Are these the same people who apparently don’t have Bluetooth in their car which is why they’re driving around with a cellphone glued to their ear?
I just crash through the garage door – usually under the influence. Don’t tell my employer or our church. Maybe I’ll find Tom’s 8-track…
@Danielle – The 24/680 Staff thanks you for that one… we’ve actually seen that happen in Moraga, with the driver breaststroking from her sinking car in a diaphanous cocktail gown after she punched through her garage and into her pool with the family auto. It was beautiful in a way, almost like a scene out of Titanic… :-}