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Youd better watch out; Criminals shopping for steals
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It’s the busiest time of the year — for criminals.

With less than a week to go to Christmas, thieves and burglars are expected to pick up their game to take advantage of distracted and careless shoppers.

As is the case with anytime of the year leaving anything in your car in plain view can lead to the loss of valuables or at the very least a $200 plus bill to replace a broken window.

Thieves don’t know if there is nothing under a towel or if a box is empty, according to Manteca Police Chief Nick Obligacion.

And if you don’t believe him, just ask former Police Chief Charlie Halford who learned the hard way that thieves don’t have X-ray vision.

He had gone to the theater complex a few years back that was located in the Manteca Marketplace where Big Lots is today. He left nothing of value in view in his SUV although there was an empty box.

When he came out of the movie criminals had shattered a window to grab the box.

“If they (criminals) see anything like a gym bag or loose change and they can break into your vehicle without being detected they will do it,” Obligacion said.

Even placing items in your trunk may not save you from being a victim of theft.

Obligacion notes every year in Manteca shopping center parking lots someone has purchases stolen from their trunk. That’s because criminals will wait patiently to see who comes in and out of stores. If they see you come out, place items in your trunk, and then go into another store they will wait until you are inside and then break a window so they can use the trunk release latch to open the trunk.

“Auto burglary is a crime of opportunity,” Obligacion said. “It just takes seconds to smash a window and grab something. It’s a crime that you can reduce the chances of you becoming a victim of greatly if you don’t leave things in view, even a towel.”

There have been 324 auto burglaries in Manteca this year as of the end of November.