While auto burglaries are fairly common in San Ramon, employees at one office park have fallen victim to a rash of thefts from their cars and places of employment. Over the past two weeks, there have been 10 auto and commercial burglaries and grand thefts in and around Bishop Ranch.
"We've been plagued in the last couple weeks with residential burglaries, auto burglaries and commercial burglaries from offices or businesses," said San Ramon Police Investigations Sgt. Cary Goldberg.
Between Tuesday, Jan. 10 and Friday, Jan. 20, several cars and businesses were broken into at or near Bishop Ranch 2 and the Target shopping center. On Jan. 10, a business' window was smashed at Bishop Ranch 6 on Camino Ramon and one laptop was stolen. Most recently, burglars pried open doors to a business at 2680 Bishop Drive and stole a projector worth approximately $300 from one of the conference rooms.
On the night of Jan. 15, the doors to three businesses in the same complex were pried open and a total of 15 laptops stolen. San Ramon Police estimate that the electronics were worth a collective $17,200.
"It was a big bummer," said an employee of one of the victim businesses. Her employer is currently in the process of moving several items off site.
Several auto burglaries also occurred in front of Pasta Pomodoro and Whole Foods around 8 p.m. on Jan. 20. Police suspect those thefts are related to two window-smash burglaries in front of Chevy's on San Ramon Valley Boulevard that night.
"People are leaving briefcases, computers, computer bags in plain view in parking lots. People look in, then smash the window and take them," said San Ramon Police Lt. Tom LaRoque. "The commercial part, the Bishop Drive part, is a little more than what we'd normally get."
Although Bishop Ranch does not oversee its shopping center neighbor, Bishop Ranch General Manager Alex Mehran Jr. said his company is tracking when thefts occur and taking measures to increase security at the two complexes.
"We have standard security patrol, a roving guard 24/7, and we supplement that guard during periods when thefts are more likely, such as around Christmas time and on the weekend," he said, adding that the company sent out notification emails to park employers requesting that they take measures to mitigate thefts.
Still, a thumbnail survey of office employees at Bishop Ranch 2 showed that half were unaware of recent events. One employee, Adrienne, said she did not know about the thefts but noticed that her company gets "a lot of notices" and that security has told them to lock their doors.
Jeannine Beede's office was not one of the victims, but said she had been informed to close the blinds on her parking lot-facing office.
"We have an alarm system, our doors are always locked. We are taking precautions," she said.
Those extra precautions have netted positive results, according to Mehran, as Bishop Ranch security officers apprehended a culprit on Monday night. Concord resident Thomas Daley, 33, was found on methamphetamines with a stolen iPhone, a window puncher and other gear used to break through a window. Although Mehran said he is "pretty sure" Daley is the culprit, San Ramon Police said the man did not have anything on him and was merely arrested for prowling.
"We have 30,000 people that come to Bishop Ranch every day and 6,000 customers, so we tend to be a very safe location and we think that this situation is solved," Mehran stated.
San Ramon Police said they are working with Bishop Ranch in an ongoing investigation that includes special details and burglary suppression. Lt. LaRoque said that there is a cyclical nature associated with such crimes and speculated that the spike in thefts is due to an individual or group coming through town.
To that end, San Ramon Police held a "To Catch a Thief" program where volunteers went to often-burgled areas and identified items in cars that were likely to be stolen. Volunteers issued more than 500 notices to people parked in the Market Place and Target shopping centers as well as 24-Hour Fitness and Bishop Ranch parking lots, citing GPS devices, computers and purses as prime targets for theft.
"I think San Ramon is a target rich environment and…I think the criminals know that," Sgt. Goldberg said.
Police encourage residents to lock their business and car doors and keep valuable items out of sight. Additionally, if you see a burglary in the making, do not intervene but write down a license plate number and call the police at 973-2700.