Tourist car burglaries linked to Bay Area gangs
LOS ANGELES (AP) — A surge of thefts from vehicles parked at tourist locations on the West side of Los Angeles has been linked to San Francisco Bay Area gang members, authorities say.
The Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department are trying to stem the outbreak that began last year, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday.
“It was our No. 1 crime trend in West Bureau in 2019,” LAPD Cmdr. Cory Palka told the newspaper.
The Bay Area thieves use rental cars to travel several hundred miles to Southern California, where they target tourists’ cars at shopping centers, museums and similar spots.
The burglary crews primarily come from San Francisco, Oakland and Contra Costa County cities including Antioch and Pittsburg.
Their move south follows an extensive theft problem in the Bay Area that led residents and businesses there to increase security, said Lt. Matt Stonebraker of the police department in Richmond, northeast of San Francisco.
“This has also caused them to hit the road to locations where they can have anonymity in other jurisdictions,” Stonebraker said.
Detective Brent Hopkins of the LAPD’s Wilshire Division calls it “tourist suspects targeting tourist victims.”
The division covers an area with very popular upscale shopping centers, museums and the famous Original Farmers market. It recorded 1,968 car burglaries in 2019, an increase of 29% from 2018 and 37% from 2017.
Hopkins attributed much of the jump to Bay Area gangs. Police can urge people to not leave valuables in cars.