In response to a string of recent thefts, local officers are reminding locals that leaving iPods, laptops and electronics in front of unlocked sliding glass doors is not advisable.
According to University of California Police Dept. Sgt. Mark Signa, in the early morning hours of Sunday, Feb. 17, three patrolling officers noticed a man with a backpack allegedly creeping along an upstairs balcony. The officers witnessed the subject stall before entering the residence through a sliding glass door. Based on reasonable suspicion, officers pursued the subject into the house and questioned the man.
The suspect reportedly said he thought a friend lived in the apartment. However, contact with the building residents confirmed that no one in the apartment was familiar with the intruder.
The subject contacted his friends to collaborate, but after questioning each member of the group separately, officers determined they had probable cause to search the car associated with the suspects. A search of their vehicle produced valuable items linked to two other I.V. burglaries, including cell phones, laptops and iPods. All five individuals were arrested.
Isla Vista Foot Patrol Cpl. Dave Millard said recent events show that many residents in I.V. simply do not understand the risk of leaving an empty house open. He said that the alleged burglar in the Feb. 17 incident could have easily entered the residence if no one was home.
Additionally, he said if the suspect was unsure as to whether or not people were in the home, he could have double-checked by knocking on the door and asking for directions or a fake person’s name just in case someone answered the door.
Signa said that the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Dept. currently is holding stolen property connected with at least two other burglaries and recent thefts, and he advised victims to contact the department.
However, to ensure stolen property can be traced, Millard suggested engraving items with a driver’s license number or devising evidence that links the item to the actual owner.
“Anything you can do to help identify your stuff specifically to you is a great idea,” Millard said. “I actually had, out of the seven years that I have been here, I’ve had one person that has done that. When they came in to make the report, they had pictures with the [stolen] jewelry on. … That just helps assist with the recovery rate.”
In spite of the nature of an I.V. lifestyle, officers at the IVFP encouraged residents not to disregard strangers in one’s house or around one’s property.
Furthermore, Maya Salmon, Community Housing Office program coordinator, said that community awareness is an integral part of staying safe. She said residents should be mindful of the problem and rather than leaving doors unlocked when going out, they should take a moment to secure their homes.
“People really need to be aware,” Salmon said. “Even if they are drinking at night, make sure to do the precautionary stuff before you go out. Make sure everyone has a key, or someone has a key, but don’t just leave a key under your doormat. That’s a common place where people keep things, and if I were a robber, that would be the first place that I would check.”