In the past week, over 20 local residents reported the theft of expensive electronics from their homes, but local law enforcement says the only culprit it has found thus far is the high number of unlocked doors and windows in I.V.
The Isla Vista Foot Patrol (IVFP) has received reports of more than 25 burglaries since Monday, Sept. 26, said IVFP Lieutenant Sol Linver. Linver said all of the victims reported that electronic devices — including laptop computers, iPods and compact discs — had been stolen from their homes. Linver said the IVFP does not currently have any suspects in custody, nor has it found any leads while investigating the incidents.
Thieves use a variety of different tactics to get inside homes in I.V., Linver said — one way the perpetrators may have targeted local residences is by walking around and trying door handles until they found unlocked doors.
“They will knock to see if there is anyone home,” Linver said. “If no one answers, they just go in.”
Jeff Murphy, a senior mechanical engineering major, lives on the 6700 block of Sabado Tarde Road. Murphy said his apartment was broken into at around 5 a.m. while everyone inside was sleeping.
“It was pretty much a mistake of people leaving the door unlocked,” Murphy said.
Murphy said the burglars then entered the apartment below his but woke up the residents, who called the police immediately. He said the police responded quickly and took a report of the stolen items, but the perpetrators had fled the scene by the time officers arrived.
“The police responded within a couple minutes and they kinda searched the area,” Murphy said. “You try to cut them some slack, I know there’s not much they can do.”
He said between the two apartments, the burglars stole two Xbox game systems, two laptops, and an iPod, among other things.
Jake Bonelli, a third-year psychology major who lives on the 6500 block of Sabado Tarde, said he was on his way home at around 2 a.m. Sunday morning when he witnessed an unfamiliar person open the door of his apartment and go inside. Bonelli said he thinks the man was a would-be thief who was scared away when he showed up.
“The guy said, ‘I thought this was the bathroom,'” Bonelli said. “After he left, I realized he didn’t seem drunk and he didn’t have friends around, so I assume he was trying to rob me.”
The common practice of leaving doors and windows unsecured in I.V. makes the area an appealing target for thieves, Linver said. He said most of the recent thefts occurred in residences that were left unlocked, giving intruders easy access to the contents of the homes.
“All but one or two of the incidents were from apartments with unlocked doors or open windows,” Linver said.
Bonelli said he left the door unlocked because he was only going to his neighbor’s house and his roommate was asleep inside his home. After the incident, Bonelli said he told his neighbors to lock their doors.
Linver said it is difficult for the IVFP to catch criminals in the area because they often look like any other I.V. resident. He said thieves often dump the books out of their victims’ backpacks and stuff the packs with stolen electronics, blending in with students after they leave the residence.
Linver said the IVFP will continue to investigate the thefts. Any information about the burglaries can be reported to the IVFP at (805) 681-4179.