Bay Area car break-ins are on the rise, prompting some auto owners to leave their trunks open

Some people are going to great lengths to avoid having their windows smashed, even leaving their trunks open to show it's empty.

ByStephanie Sierra via KGO logo
Wednesday, December 15, 2021
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Leaving your trunk open to deter car break-ins? Some auto owners in the Bay Area are trying it, but police warn this is a very bad idea.

SAN FRANCISCO -- Some car owners in the San Francisco Bay Area have been going to great lengths to avoid vehicle break-ins, even if that means risking it all.

"I'm shocked," said former San Francisco Police Department Deputy Chief Garret Tom. "There's so much that can go wrong here."

We've heard of cars being left unlocked, windows rolled down, but now some people are leaving their trunks open too. It's raising eyebrows as reports of car break-ins are on the rise in San Francisco and Oakland.

A witness who saw it happen wrote on social media, "Imagine having to clean out your car and leaving it open in public, just so people won't break your windows. Oakland we looking sad man."

"It doesn't really surprise me," said Oakland's Interim Deputy Police Chief Drennon Lindsey.

Lindsey says these thieves are getting more advanced.

"Even if you think I'm just going to put my laptop in my trunk... if it's on, they have technology to detect it in the car," she said. "Even if it's hidden."

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Former SFPD Deputy Chief Garret Tom says in his nearly 40 years on the force, he's never seen people resort to this to protect their windows.

"We're in different times... that's unbelievable," he told KGO-TV's Stephanie Sierra as he glanced at the picture.

Tom says it's an invitation for even more theft - or perhaps unwanted visitors.

"They could steal your batteries, your tires," he said. "They could go into your glove compartment and find out where you live."

SFPD has reported a 32 percent increase in car break-ins so far this year compared to last year. The city has also seen a 25 percent spike in auto burglaries. Police say it's a similar trend in Oakland. So far this year, OPD has reported around a 27% increase in both car break-ins and auto burglaries.

"We have got to do more to get us through this holiday season," said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

Mayor Schaaf is calling on private property owners to consider purchasing security cameras to help with surveillance of these organized groups.

"Pointing the cameras towards the street and register it with the Oakland Police Department," she said.

Both departments have increased patrols in high-traffic areas over the holiday season, but warn we all have to use common sense.

"Don't leave valuables in the car, don't even tuck things under your seat," said Lindsey.

And definitely, don't leave your trunk open.