SANTA BARBARA — The Santa Barbara Police Department warns residents against leaving valuables inside a vehicle.
The agency has received an elevated number of reports of burglaries from vehicles, according to a news release.
In November, SBPD wrote police reports for 39 “burglary-from-a-motor-vehicle” cases, according to its community data dashboard.
SBPD notices a trend of car break-ins in recreational areas, such as the golf course, city parks, beachfront parking lots and other parking lots throughout the city.
Investigators believe a group of criminals from outside Santa Barbara are targeting vehicles where the owner has left a purse or other valuables. SBPD has received information that the “network of criminals” is “highly sophisticated.”
The burglars likely watch the parking lots and observe victims’ actions. Victims may place a purse or wallet in the trunk of a car, believing it is safe, but the criminals use a tool to discreetly open the trunk.
Victims of such burglary report that they were initially unaware the crime occurred. The criminals often steal credit/debit cards but leave the wallet or purse behind.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity at recreational areas or city parking lots is urged to call 9-1-1 or SBPD dispatch at 805-882-8900.
— Annelise Hanshaw