Danville Express

Community Pulse - August 10, 2007

Teens target cars to steal valuables

A band of five 15-year-olds traveling on bikes and skateboards were arrested in the Joaquin Drive area after an anonymous caller reported the group was breaking into unlocked cars last week.

A laptop computer and a GPS radio system were allegedly stolen and five vehicles were tampered with. The break-ins were reported just before 1 a.m. on Sunday, July 29.

Officers spotted two of the juveniles emerging from bushes, made contact, and had reason to believe they were the suspects - despite claims they were just out looking at cars, said police Sgt. Troy Craig.

"At first they were playing coy," Craig said.

When electronics are stolen from cars, juvenile suspects generally have sought out merchandise they can sell quickly online at Web sites like eBay, Craig said.

According to reports, crimes of opportunity go up in the summertime, partly due to hot weather and also to students' free time. Thieves often peek in car windows to see if any valuables are visible, Craig said.

"Sometimes it's juveniles getting bored, sometimes they're learning from people doing this for a living," he said.

Officers set out in the neighborhood, located near Greenbrook Elementary School, to find the other three suspects, using the description the caller reported. They successfully located all five juveniles.

"Police went looking around nooks and crannies and in dark parts of the neighborhood," Craig said.

The names of the juveniles were not familiar to Craig, which indicated the incident was likely the group's first brush with the law, he said.

One of the cars left unlocked was a red Lexus, but thieves don't necessarily target expensive or flashy cars more than other vehicles, he added. Leaving visible valuables in the car is the No. 1 cause of petty theft from vehicles in Danville.

"It's plain and simple," Craig said. "If people took their stuff inside, our theft crimes would drop significantly."

-Natalie O'Neill

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