Increased Car Break-Ins in Visalia

February 26, 2009 9:35:45 PM PST
Detectives in the South Valley are trying to get a handle on a big increase of car burglaries across the city. Visalia Police are trying to crack down more than ever on car break-ins. Officers say how you leave your car after you park it can determine whether you can become a victim of a car burglary.Whether you're parked in a driveway or out at a shopping center, Visalia detectives say thieves don't play favorites when it comes to breaking into your car.

Agent Damon Maurice with the Visalia Police Department said, "We are putting together an action plan with some specific patrol details to try to combat the problem here in town." As police try to prevent break-ins, they have dozens of cases they're still trying to solve. And the victims are left to deal with shattered glass, lost property and the trauma of having someone rifle through sensitive documents.

Officers say car burglaries and identity theft go hand in hand. Agent Maurice said, "Being a crime of opportunity, what these crooks are doing is not only burglarizing the vehicles themselves, they're also taking people's personal identification out of the cars and using that information to commit further crimes, as well."

In 2007, Visalia Police reported 859 car burglaries. That number rose to 1,185 in 2008. 75 people were victims of identity theft last year, a 74% increase over 2007. The Visalia Police Department is making it a top priority now to try and lower these numbers. Car burglary victim Doug Doucette says the criminals are becoming more brazen. Someone broke into his car Wednesday night.

Doug Doucette said, "Our neighbors had gotten their jeep broken into so we were taking extra precautions parking our vehicles up closer to our house. The following morning I came out and I noticed that the console for our Tahoe was left open."

Officers are asking people not to leave any personal identification in your car. Also, don't leave your garage door opener in your car because that's an open door to your garage.

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