While the holiday season usually means open season for looters across Isla Vista, only a few incidents of residential and vehicle burglary occurred over the winter break.
With students home for the holidays, empty residences typically serve as prime targets for theft during the three-week hiatus from school. However, according to Sgt. Erik Raney of the Isla Vista Foot Patrol, this year saw fewer burglaries and acts of crime than prior holiday breaks.
“It was very quiet during break, both with calls for service and burglaries, so that’s good,” Raney said. “So far we haven’t had the numbers we’ve had in the past.”
Crime was minimal in the first week of the vacation, with only three car burglaries and one residential break-in reported. A house on the 6700 block of Sabado Tarde was broken into and ransacked, though the residents were unsure if anything was stolen.
The second week of break witnessed even less crime, with only one residential break-in and one auto burglary. However, on Dec. 27, a 23-year-old male was found hanging posters and tagging the side of the IVFP building with the words “Fuck UCSB and fuck the police chief too.” According to the report, he claimed he was practicing social activism and that he was a spiritual leader who used drugs to create his art. He was arrested on charges of vandalism.
Another incident occurred when two former members of Beta Theta Pi locked one individual in his room at the fraternity house on 750 Embarcadero Del Mar and barricaded the door with furniture so he could not escape. The two individuals – who were allegedly kicked out of the fraternity – spray-painted the inside of the house before officers arrived and arrested them on charges of false imprisonment and vandalism. Both offenders had been arrested three weeks prior for auto burglary.
Overall, the most prevalent crime over the break was car burglary, an ongoing problem that has plagued Isla Vista for months. According to Raney, most cases involve burglars smashing a car window and taking small personal electronics such as iPods and GPS devices.
“Our theory is that someone is taking note of the electronics in plain view and returning when the opportunity is there,” Raney said. “People can prevent these burglaries by taking their electronics out of view, or locking them in the glove compartment or center console.”
In addition to car burglaries, Isla Vista typically sees a spike in residential burglaries over the holiday break. According to Raney, physical break-ins are rare in I.V. houses – more often, he said, residents fail to effectively secure their home and burglars simply enter through unlocked windows.
“Burglars know people are gone on vacation, so their stuff is still there, as opposed to over the summer, and take advantage of the opportunity,” he said.
Anticipating the increase in burglaries, the IVFP was able to focus its efforts over the holiday season on catching burglars and preventing the crime.
“We know that burglars will come out here and take advantage of the fact that everyone’s gone, so we directed our efforts to mitigate the burglaries,” Raney said. “We had more patrols, more non-uniform patrols, and undercover officers – we call them our burglary suppression units.”
Overall, Raney said he was satisfied with the Foot Patrol’s efforts and the relatively low rate of crime over break.
“It’s equally important to us to catch burglars and prevent the crimes, and I think we were successful in both,” he said.