Home NEWS Local Scene Fertile Grounds: Local Car Burglars Preying On Coffee Shop Customers

Fertile Grounds: Local Car Burglars Preying On Coffee Shop Customers


Watching for trends as we do around here we can say we’ve noted a decided uptick in the number of car burglaries outside local coffee houses of late – in broad daylight and so quick even the few people who realize what is happening have little time to react.

Lafayette Police Chief Ben Alldritt has already made note of the trend in an outreach to neighbors in his city, and police in Walnut Creek and Pleasant Hill are busy tracking a busy team of burglars in their cities today.

It appears a “crew” of at least two and possibly as many as three burglars in a black BMW cruised parking lots outside coffee shops on Contra Costa Boulevard and a second location in Walnut Creek, smashing car windows and making off with at least one backpack.

One incident was reported at 11:40 a.m. in Pleasant Hill, a precise time of the Walnut Creek incident was not immediately available.

Thieves have targeted customers at coffee houses and other locations people are inclined to gather and spend time, stealing computers and in some instances physically assaulting their victims or Good Samaritans who intervene.

A witness who saw the theft earlier today said the suspect BMW carried a plate of 7PBL956 and had tinted windows.


  1. It is true, they can break your window and grab their prize in 2 to 3 seconds and be gone!
    I witnessed one where the guy was on a bicycle with a backpack, he stopped next to a car, smashed the window and was on his way before I could even open my mouth to yell out a him. They have it down as an art. And since they don’t go to jail for such crimes anymore, they are ever embolded. And because of such it’s only going to get worse!

  2. Check out a couple of YouTube videos by the Denver police department titled “Tips from a thief” parts 1 and 2. Former auto burglar shows just how fast he can smash your window, grab your stuff, and be gone — also shares how he used to pick targets.

    Hint: throwing your valuables in the trunk or hiding them under your seat when you park isn’t as clever as you may think it is; thieves may be watching you. Hide your stuff before you get to your destination.

  3. I think a “60 Minutes” type show needs to do a nationally-broadcast report on how rampant petty (and not so petty) crime has become in California since the passage of Prop 47 and AB 109 along with a general soft on crime sentiment from our state government. Greg T is right to point out that vehicle burglars do not see any real jail time – just ask a police officer, in SF they encounter the same repeat offenders week after week. The courts let them out because the sentencing guidelines are soft and the jails are full. Look at BartCrimes.com and you’ll see the same names on there. I simply do not believe the statistics that say crime is down – when has it ever been routine to have auto/home burglaries, laptop snatch and grabs, daily shoplifting in the 24/680?

    I think California needs to be shamed into getting its law and order policies back on the right track. This is getting to be no way to live.

    • I agree with everything you said, but I think it’s too late for this cancer to be cured. Lawabiding citizens in California are a distinct minority. When you have elected politicians as well as some LEO in leftist cities condoning criminal acts, the ball game is really over. Find a another state like so many of us are seeking. My personal choice is either Texas or Florida.

    • One reason crime is “down” is because when your car is broken into in Walnut Creek you are asked to do your own report online. In my case I didn’t bother and assume I’m not the only one.

      • Who, bummer! and sorry you got hit. We’re interested in how data is recorded relative to these and other crimes in the area, and always wonder if the numbers are truly reflected.

  4. Either these people have gotten really really good at maneuvering in plain sight while remaining virtually undetected or the public has growen even more self absorbed and at a loss to understand things going on around them. I think it’s a combination of both with a slightly larger dose of the latter.

  5. Wow. So they rip you off if you use your computer in the business and if you leave the computer in the car they rip it off there. Wonderful.

  6. Please be careful everyone. While the urge may be to rush to smoene’s aid as we saw in Lafayette recently I believe the thiefs have friends waiting in the cars to rush over and help. I would want to help someone out but I also believe it is important to know what can happen and these crooks are prepared to hurt you to get what they want.

  7. I get your point and agree but I dont think this trend is confined to coffee places only. Any place where people are guaranteed to be away from their cars for any length of time – movies, malls, etc would be an easy target.

    • That’s true. But what is breaking news is that people REFUSE to take the steps necessary to prevent the thefts.

      • I totally agree. It’s a waste of taxpayer dollars (filing unnecessary police reports) and it drives up insurance rates for those of us who don’t file claims.

  8. I witnessed a smash and grab of a Mini Cooper convertible this morning outside of Peet’s Coffee in Orinda. Black male driving a Black BMW with blue paper plate inserts from Weatherford BMW smashed the drivers side window and grabbed a MacBook Pro and it was all over in about 10 seconds. He roared off to the East bound ramp of Hiway 24. Orinda PD said they had a report of similar theft and car 30 minutes earlier in Rodeo.

    • Hmm, thanks for posting, Ron. Sounds like our man. He’s been busy! Did you see if he used a tool/breaker of some kind?

      • I could not see as he had parallel parked to the left of the Mini and got out on the passenger side of the BMW to break in the Mini and then jumped back in the passenger side of the BMW. So he was basically concealed between the 2 cars from me. I thought he probably had one of those emergency tools to break the window but I could not see it from my vantage. I also wondered if he just got lucky when he pulled in next to the Mini or if he had walked by earlier.

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