SANTA MARIA, Calif. – Car theft is moving at a fast pace, happening in the United States every 46 seconds. The crime is also taking place on the Central Coast in big numbers.
“For the first quarter of 2016, in Santa Maria, car thefts are up 28% in comparison to last year,” said Officer Matt Kenny, California Highway Patrol.
On Tuesday, Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Department announced deputies had arrested two suspects wanted in a rash of car burglaries in the Santa Maria and Santa Ynez Valleys. Earlier in the year, the San Luis Obispo Police Department revealed more than 600 car break-ins during the first four months of 2016.
Throughout the Central Coast, law enforcement agencies have announced numerous car burglaries, car thefts, plus arrests over the past several months. The constant barrage of reports in the media is causing many owners to seriously consider proactive approaches to car security.
“As ‘Joe Scumbag’ is walking through neighborhoods, he’s looking at cars and he’s just window shopping,” said George Smith, owner, Mobileworks Autosound & Security. “And if there’s 15 cars on your street, now he has a choice to pick. A security system is going to give you extra protection.”
That protection now includes a vast array of security systems that will alert owners no matter where they are in the world.
“I can know by a remote control alerting me, and paging me, that someone has hit my car or it will show that someone has opened my door or hood or trunk,” said Smith. “So at that point, I take take off and run and check out my vehicle.”
Should a thief break into a car, they are also facing more challenges once inside.
“Some of these new cars push to start. They have transponders built into them and it’s a code, and it’s always changing, so it’s a lot more secure,” said Smith.
Most security systems will include a small flashing light that is affixed on the dash, which Smith serves as a great deterrent to crime.
“If you see it in the middle of the night and it’s flashing real bright blue, that car has something on it, they’ll likely go elsewhere,” said Smith.
First and foremost, the easiest line defense in preventing auto theft, is simply practicing common sense.
“Keep your doors locked and your valuables out of sight, or bring them with you, or under a seat or in the trunk,” said Kenny. “Don’t park behind hedges or fences. Park in an area where there are pedestrians around, so it’s going to grab attention when there are people passing by. Same thing with parking in a well-lit area. Nobody wants to steal a car when there is a bright light shining down on it.”