The public was asked to do its best to help prevent car burglaries in Fallbrook at a special community meeting held May 29 at the Fallbrook Sheriff’s substation.
Detective Bill Yavno called the meeting after receiving crime analysis information showing that 70 percent of car burglaries in this area over the past six months involved vehicles that had been left unlocked.
“These have been crimes of opportunity and were very preventable,” Yavno said, explaining that there is no “crime spree” going on. “Our numbers are actually down five percent this year, it’s just that the public can do a lot to reduce the number.”
According to the Sheriff’s Dept., since November of 2013, there have been 116 car burglaries reported in the Fallbrook jurisdiction with a cumulative loss of $122,000.
Yavno said many victims have been unable to file claims for their losses because they don’t carry the “comprehensive” option on their car insurance.
“We have seen a distinct trend that drivers are dropping the comprehensive category on their insurance due to rising costs,” he said. “So, they end up with no coverage for a car burglary.”
Yavno cited four cases that stood out amongst those under investigation.
The first involved a professional photographer who lost $3,000 in camera equipment after leaving her car door unlocked outside a local pharmacy.
“In another case, $16,000 worth of hang gliding equipment was stolen out of an unlocked vehicle inside a garage that had been left open overnight,” said Yavno.
The third case involved a vehicle that was locked and parked in a driveway, but several enticing valuables had been left in plain view inside the car.
“One could easily see a laptop, iPad, purse (with $3,000 cash inside), and other bags inside the vehicle,” said Yavno. “She had just cashed two paychecks and had left the money in her purse.”
The final case he cited was one that led to the possibility of a second crime. “One victim had 10 checks stolen from inside an unlocked car, which also increased the chance of identify theft,” he said. “I am working on an identity theft case right now that started with a car break-in, because their ID was left inside the vehicle.”
Yavno said while a few suspects are arrested relating to burglaries, the majority of the time detectives aren’t able to get good leads to follow through on.
“It’s difficult getting quality fingerprints or DNA samples from a vehicle; most of the time there are many prints and they are smudged and unusable,” he said, noting this is due to the wide variety of prints found on most vehicles – from drivers, passengers, mechanics, car wash personnel, etc.
“However, when we do get a lead, it usually leads to a much bigger investigation,” he explained.
While some car burglaries are committed by forced entry, such as a window being broken or door forced open, those are in the minority, at 30 percent.
Yavno also explained that certain time periods and specific roadways in Fallbrook have the greatest incidents of these crimes.
“Most of the car burglaries [in the past six months] happened between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. along South Mission Road, Alturas Road, Ammunition Road, South Main Avenue, and West Beech Street,” he said.
Yavno said he wanted to get the public service information out to the community specially because of the time of the year.
“With the summer months coming up, I am really trying to get the word out for people to try and help prevent these crimes,” he said.
Tips to reduce the chance of being a victim of a car burglary
• Lock all doors and close all windows
• Never leave a car running
• Don’t leave valuables in plain sight inside a vehicle (use trunk if need)
• Leave no trace – remove docking stations, cell phone chargers, connector cables, etc.
• Never leave keys in the ignition
• Remove the face plate of an after-market stereo (without a faceplate it is difficult to remove it and fence it)
• Park in busy, well-lit and well-traveled areas
• Use car alarm
• Mark valuables – record serial numbers for insurance claims
When suspicious activity is seen, call the Sheriff’s Dept. communications center at (858) 565-5200.