With 44 car break-ins, and over half of them resulting in stolen property, the past holiday season leaves many residents and students susceptible to auto burglaries. Recent Palo Alto Police Department crime reports show that in a 10-day duration, almost 50 cars were broken into, with 34 being burglaries.
These auto burglaries have left residents concerned and PAPD taking extra precautionary measures to ensure safety.
PAPD Public Affairs Manager Janine De la Vega said car break-ins spiked significantly during late December through early January, and not just in Palo Alto.
“Auto burglaries have been on the rise this year compared to last,” De la Vega said. “This is not something that is just occurring in Palo Alto. It’s a Bay Area-wide problem with auto burglaries happening in the city, on the Peninsula, in the East Bay and in the South Bay.”
Areas most commonly impacted by this spike include parking lots of shopping centers and the downtown area, according to De la Vega.
However, Palo Alto resident Mike Asher and his neighbors had auto burglaries right outside their homes earlier this year.
“Our car was parked on the street right in front of the house, and they broke into our car as well as all of the neighbors on our street,” Asher said. “I don’t know if I had left the door unlocked or if they were able to somehow get in and unlock it, but they broke into my car without cracking the window. ”
Asher’s neighbor Kusum Pandey had her car broken into as well, leaving her vehicle with excessive damages after a forceful entry attempt.
“Our car was parked in the driveway,” Pandey said. “Nothing was stolen, but they tried to get into the car by smashing the window and leaving some scratches. The window was shattered but (remained intact), so they couldn’t take anything.”
De la Vega said PAPD advises residents to not leave valuable items in their vehicles, as frequently stolen items during robberies include laptops and electronics, as well as personal property such as purses or bags. Additionally, car registrations were also stolen. Although Asher only had cash stolen from his car, he said he thinks it’s because the burglars were in a hurry to hit multiple cars that night.
“I had a bunch of stuff in the car, but all they stole was cash out of the (armrest storage compartment),” Asher said. “They actually missed a couple of hundred dollars that I had kept in the glove box.”
De la Vega said PAPD is proactively addressing the increasing auto burglaries through increasing patrols in areas that have been hit. She also said PAPD established a Special Enforcement Team focusing on auto burglaries to reduce their frequency in Palo Alto.
In the meantime, De la Vega recommends residents take their belongings with them to prevent future auto burglaries.
“Don’t leave any bags or personal property in your car,” De la Vega said. “Always remember to lock your doors and windows.”