The Santa Barbara Police Department is warning residents about an increase in vehicle burglaries reported at local parks.
According to police, offenders are targeting wallets, purses, or bags left inside the vehicle. The suspects generally break in through the door lock mechanism of the driver’s door and steal cash and credit cards from wallets. The suspects then leave the wallet in the vehicle in order to provide extra time to use the stolen credit cards to make fraudulent purchases.
Some of the parks where the burglaries occurred include Elings Park, Shoreline Park, and Chase Palm Park.
Santa Barbara Police Department’s Public Engagement Manager Anthony Wagner says police are investigating the burglaries, and that police noticed the trend “in the last couple of weeks.” Wagner also said the similar nature of these burglaries suggests that they are part of an organized plan.
“This crime is a crime of opportunity,” Wagner said. “Erasing that opportunity means not leaving valuables in the car. Or if they must do that, leave it in a non-conspicuous space.”
Micah Greasby says he surfs at Shoreline Park every day, and rarely locks his car or closes his windows. He says the reports of burglaries at the park caught him off guard.
“Completely surprised,” Greasby said. “The Mesa is one of the safest places in Santa Barbara, which is a safe place.”
Police offer the following tips to protect yourself:
Do not keep valuables inside of your parked vehicle. If you have to lock your purse or other personal property inside the vehicle, please ensure these items are out of view. Upon returning to your vehicle, make sure to thoroughly look through your valuables to ensure your credit cards or other items have not been stolen.