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Auto burglaries soaring 42 percent in Manteca
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Signs at Orchard Valley warn shoppers to take steps to discourage auto burglary. - photo by Bulletin file photo

The Promenade Shops at Orchard Valley has emerged as the hottest spot for criminals committing Manteca’s most prevalent and fastest growing crime - auto burglary.

Auto burglaries are up 42 percent citywide this year with Orchard Valley leading the way.

During the first eight months of 2011, there were a record 422 auto burglaries in Manteca. That compares to 298 for the same time period the year before.

That has prompted Poag & McEwen - the owners of Orchard Valley - to install bold yellow and black signs around the parking lot reading, “Park Smart: Remove valuables and lock your doors. Manteca Police Department.”

Police Chief Dave Bricker noted any large concentration of vehicles is viewed as prime targets by thefts. He noted St. Anthony’s Catholic Church recently was hit by multiple auto burglaries.

“It just takes a bad guy seconds to break a window and grab something out of a car,” Bricker said.

Bricker said thieves will take anything they believe is valuable that they can see whether it is loose change or even a gym bag that could very well end up being empty of having nothing of value in it.

Bricker said thieves can’t tell that so they simply think it’s an easy target that is worth the effort.

When Charlie Halford was police chief he learned that lesson the hard way. He had taken his son to a movie during the day and had left an empty power tool box in clear view in the back of his SUV. The window was smashed and the empty box stolen.

While Halford didn’t lose a power tool he did have to pay several hundred dollars to replace the broken window.

“You shouldn’t leave anything of value or looks like it could have value in open view,” Bricker said.