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Auto burglary a day in Manteca

Police: Don’t leave anything in view

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POSTED April 6, 2010 3:23 a.m.
Every day someone in Manteca is going to walk to their car and find a smashed out window.

The culprit that committed the crime more than likely decided to break the window and enter the car because he saw the opportunity to make a quick score.

And in more than a few cases he’ll come up empty handed.

Auto burglary, according to Manteca Police Public Information Officer Rex Osborn, is one crime that most people can prevent from happening to them.

“It’s a crime of opportunity,” Osborn said. “Thieves walking or bicycling by see something in the vehicle and if they think no one can see them they break into the car and take it.”

Often, though, it doesn’t produce tangible results for the thief.

They may see an empty gym bag, a crumpled up towel they think is covering something or even a charger which leaves them to believe there might be a cell phone, iPod, or some other electronic device such as a laptop computer in the car.

“The best advice is you don’t want to leave anything in plain view,” said Osborn. “If you have a trunk put your stuff in the trunk. If you have a towel, make sure it is lying flat so they don’t think you’re hiding something under it.

Even if you don’t lose anything, that broken window can cost between $150 and $400 to replace. Most people do not have insurance deductibles that low so the money is out of your pocket.

In the first two months of this year, there were 54 auto burglaries or one a day in Manteca. That is 50.46 percent below last year’s pace where there were 446 auto burglaries reported to police. There were 698 auto burglaries in 2008.

Most auto thefts are conducted by people on foot or on bicycles and not always at night.

“If you see someone suspicious on a bicycle or who is walking that strikes you as suspicious give the police a call,” said Osborn. “We may not get there right away but having the information helps a lot.”

That’s because police will have a description to keep an eye out for as a possible criminal. It also helps them to identify a pattern which then allows them to direct limited resources to specific areas.

It is also easy to become a victim of an auto break-in in broad daylight in a shopping center parking lot.

Osborn said there are criminals who will watch people pull into parking lots. They figure they have a good 20 to 30 minutes before that person returns so they wait until the opportunity arises - when no one is looking - and break into cars that glancing through the windows gives them an idea there might be something to steal.

“That’s why when you go into stores you don’t want to leave anything out in view,” Osborn said.

Osborn noted that people often leave their check books on the dashboard or loose change in view. Neither is a good idea as they attract thieves.

He could cite more than one incident where the culprits broke a window to steal what ended up being an empty gym bag.

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