A string of more than 100 car burglaries has hit Fallbrook, with many of the cases happening on the same streets and some involving the theft of valuables worth thousands of dollars.
According to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department, since November 2013, there have been 116 car burglaries reported in the North County community. While the majority of thefts have involved unlocked cars, the rest involved break-ins ranging from car windows being smashed to doors being forced open.
Investigators say there are similarities in many of the cases.
For instance, most of the car burglaries have happened between 10 p.m. and 3 a.m. along South Mission, Alturas and Ammunition roads, or along South Main Avenue and West Beech Street.
To date, the combined loss to victims of the burglaries is estimated at $122,000.
Some of the common items stolen from these vehicles include purses, wallets, bags, cell phones, credit cards, IDs and Social Security cards. Investigators say that in some cases, the cards or IDs have been used following the burglaries, exposing victims to identity theft.
According to officials, four cases in particular stand out because they could have been prevented.
One is a professional photographer who left her car door unlocked while at a local drug store during the day. An unknown thief wound up taking more than $3,000 in camera equipment from the photographer’s car.
In another case, thieves targeted an unlocked car parked inside an open garage. More than $16,000 worth of hang gliding and paragliding equipment was stolen from that car.
Another victim parked a locked car in a driveway but still caught the eye of thieves. Investigators say a purse, laptop, iPad and $3,000 in cash were left in plain view inside the vehicle, and thieves helped themselves to the bevy of valuables out in the open.
Finally, the fourth case involved 10 checks stolen from an unlocked car, leading to a risk of identity theft.
The Fallbrook Sheriff’s Substation plans to hold a community meeting on Thursday at 3 p.m. to discuss the rash of burglaries. The substation is located at 388 E. Alvarado St.
In the meantime, deputies have a few tips for residents so they can avoid becoming a victim of one of these so-called “crimes of opportunity.”
This includes locking all car doors and rolling up all windows, no matter what, and never leaving your car running. Also, avoid leaving any valuables in your vehicle or stash them out of sight, use your car alarm and park in busy, well-lit areas. It’s also a good idea to mark your valuables with a serial number in case stolen items are taken to a pawn shop, this way they're easier to trace.
Residents who see any suspicious activity should contact the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department at (858) 565-5200.