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Car break-ins on rise near Anaheim resorts

June 3, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
An alarming crime trend in Anaheim: Car burglaries are soaring in the resort area. High-tech gadgets are attracting the thieves. The number of car burglaries in the Anaheim resort area near Disneyland and the convention center is soaring. Police say it could double this year. For the past two months, Anaheim Police have been hitting motel parking lots, leaving flyers on vehicle windshields. The flyer has simple tips to help drivers avoid car break-ins. It's a move to try to fight what appears to be a growing trend.

"I can see the power adapter for the GPS in there," said Anaheim Police Detective Dave Wiggins as he peeked into a parked car.

Wiggins looks into vehicles the way a criminal would.

"I've targeted this car now because I saw this suction cup. They'll break out the window," said Wiggins.

Police say thieves are looking for GPS devices or any accessories that might indicate a GPS is hidden inside.

"The GPS devices seem to be the magnet. These things are selling anywhere from $100 to $350. These crooks that are stealing them are flipping them on the street for as little as $40," said Wiggins. "Anything else that I can grab in arm's reach: a cell phone, a laptop computer, a digital camera, I'll steal as well."

Police say lately, burglars are targeting more vehicles in Anaheim's resort area, known for Disneyland, the convention center, hotels, entertainment and shopping. Authorities say the slow economy could be partly to blame, but there may be more to it.

"This is a cyclical thing," said Wiggins. "Relatively new technology, it's easy to steal, it's easy to flip on the street."

Authorities warn those in the tourism industry about the growing trend.

Police say last year, more than 100 car burglaries were reported in the area. This year, so far, thieves have already hit 100 vehicles in the resort area. If the trend continues, the number of victims will double last year's figures.

"So this car will definitely get one of our tourist crime prevention flyers," said Wiggins.

Police are taking preventive steps by leaving flyers on cars outlining simple tips to avoid burglaries: hide valuables, remove all devices and accessories from view.

The result of the flyer blitz over the past two months?

"We saw a 60-percent reduction in auto burglaries at those hotels," said Wiggins.

Some drivers insist they are already careful, just what police want to hear.

"Take out your stereo, phones, cameras, just take them with you," said motorist Steve Murray.

Police also say watch out for suspicious activity. If you see someone looking in car windows, or just hanging around vehicles, call police right away.

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