Rash of vehicle burglaries could be organized; SP area also hit hard

September 23, 2005
Santa Paula News

If you leave something of value in your car, don’t be surprised if it goes missing!

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesIf you leave something of value in your car, don’t be surprised if it goes missing! Vehicle burglaries are on the rise, including at a recreational area near Santa Paula.The situation has grown so serious that the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department is warning people that what they believe is an organized group - who indulge in the smash and grab method of theft - is on the loose. According to Det. Taurino Almazan of the VCSD Fillmore Substation, the thieves have been concentrating on areas near hiking trails and beaches and targeting items left in vehicles.One of the areas that has been hit is Sisar Road and Santa Paula Creek near Thomas Aquinas College, located off Highway 150 in the 10000 block section of Ojai/Santa Paula Road. People park in several lots in the area to be near the prime hiking trails just north of Santa Paula.Other areas where car burglary has increased include the Rincon Beach area off Highway 101 north of Ventura, parking for the Pratt Trailhead at North Signal Street in Ojai, Gridley Trailhead parking at Gridley Road, Ojai, and Matilija Canyon Trailhead parking at North Matilija Road, also in Ojai.In most cases, suspects have been targeting vehicles left behind by hikers and beach-goers, said Det. Almazan. “They practice the ‘smash and grab’ method of theft,” smashing a window to gain entry to whatever valuables are left inside.
And the pickings can be pricey. Not only are the thieves taking wallets, cell phones, purses, stereos, compact discs and money often left behind by those taking a hike or visiting the beach, but the identification and credit cards contained in wallets can create further thefts after the fact.Det. Almazan said that investigators have learned that the thieves case the area, watch the victims, and even place lookouts before they smash a window. But the thieves are above all opportunists that act upon impulse from seeing enticing property left behind in the vehicles.Such thefts cause further expense when it comes to the loss of money for window repair and time.If people are victimized by vehicle, they should report it immediately to the local police or the VCSD as well as notifying any banks or credit card holders when any cards, checks or related documents are stolen.If you’re going to the hiking trails or the beach, leave as many items as you can home: all you need is an ID, perhaps some cash or a single credit card or check, and a cell phone. If you leave them in the vehicle, make sure you tuck them away so they’re not visible to anyone outside.

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