SANTA MARIA, Calif. - it’s every business owner’s nightmare.
"The break-ins … you know when someone reaches your store which is your livelihood and your private property it’s always a major event," said owner Scott Clark of Main Street Cycles.
Clark is all too familiar with theft crimes happening during the pandemic.
"Having the same perpetrator breaking in the same way … caught the same night … within 10 days ... it's bothersome,"said Clakr.
Santa Maria Police officers said theft crimes have kept them busy since COVID hit.
"Any large parking lot with businesses around it has potential for thieves," said Sgt. Phil Dix of the Santa Maria Police Department.
Another type of theft crime is also causing problems across the city.
Police are responding to reports from car owners about catalytic converter thefts.
Just a few weeks ago, someone ripped one out of my Toyota Prius, costing me some $3,700 to replace it.
"We probably would take anywhere from at least two catalytic converter that’s a week," said Dix.
To protect your car, officers recommend parking inside a garage if possible, or in a well lit area.
Officers said businesses along Broadway Street is another major target.
"There are several shopping centers directly off Broadway … it’s an easy escape," said Dix.
Police encourage shoppers to use common sense. Lock your car doors. Put valuable items in the trunk.
Back at Main Street Cycles, Scott Clark is getting proactive to protect his store.
"We put grid inside so that’s helped a lot but … over the last year … I’ve had in total … more break-ins than I’ve had … in the previous 30-some years," said Clark.
While they have not seen a dramatic increase in crime thefts, officers say the areas being targeted are wide-spread throughout the city.