By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Thefts from cars climb
Placeholder Image
There has been a continuing problem, statewide, with property thefts from autos. These would include break-ins to locked vehicles and those that are unlocked. The problem in this region, which includes Stanislaus and neighboring counties, is severe. In Ceres alone, our officers document hundreds of these incidents each year. Few communities have been spared from this prolific problem.

The idea that there are so many thieves preying on innocent victims is certainly cause for frustration and anger, but there is little we can do to rid our communities from this scourge. And with the prospect of the state releasing tens of thousands of prisoners, the threat will be even greater when hardened, repeat offenders are turned loose on our streets.

The impending threat of more criminals entering our communities notwithstanding, each car owner must take steps to protect their possessions. The police can and do track these thieves down, but each one of them usually is able to commit a number of thefts before the law catches up to them. Frankly, there are numerous thieves and each of them commit numerous thefts, so the most practical action against them is to eliminate the problem by leaving no property for them to steal.

I spoke with some of the Ceres officers who informed me that the vast majority of these thefts feature some kind of valuable property being left in plain sight within the victims' cars. Purses are a top candidate for thefts, as are wallets, jewelry, coins, cash, computers, computer games, and other electronic equipment. It does not help greatly either if valuables are locked in the trunk. Oftentimes a loitering thief will watch the prospective victim place items in the trunk. Even if they do not know the trunk's contents, thieves will break in to them anyway hoping for a good find.

It is recommended that you never leave valuable items in the car, whether locked or not. Try to park in your garage or other place that affords good visibility and lighting at night. Try to band together with neighbors to keep an eye on the neighborhood and to report thefts or suspicious activity immediately. Also, keep in mind that thieves are not only trying to steal items for resale or to trade for illegal drugs, they are also very interested in your personal identification and credit cards to commit identity theft.

Things to look for are people loitering or seeming to "eyeball" the neighborhood. People riding bicycles at night may be doing no wrong, but some of them are casing neighborhoods for theft opportunities. Some of the recyclables collectors may actually be using that activity as an excuse to be out and about late at night for the actual purpose of committing thefts. If you observe these stealthy bicycle riders looking into cars, be sure to call the police without delay - chances are that you might be thwarting a theft by doing so.

The theft situation is not likely to abate by itself, especially with the economic problems this state is presently experiencing. This, coupled with the trend of fewer people living by proper moral rules and the drug problems of this society, we will see more, rather than fewer of these kinds of property thefts. I strongly urge you to practice theft protection techniques. It is also a good idea to evaluate the security of your property and to consider using high-quality alarm systems. Even more effective than the aforementioned is a neighborhood that is cohesive, with everyone looking out for each others' security and welfare. The police are able to impact this problem through arrests and by stopping suspicious activities, but we are much more effective when we work hand-in-hand with the community to stop these problems. We look forward to working with you to reduce these thefts from autos.