South Bay neighborhood on alert over string of home break-ins

SAN JOSE (KTVU) -- A South Bay neighborhood is on alert after a homeowner's surveillance camera caught two burglars in the act of breaking into a residence.

Neighbors say there have been a string of home burglaries in the Willow Glen area of San Jose. It's not clear if the two suspects caught on camera are behind the string of break-ins but the incidents have rattled residents in the neighborhood.

Homeowners in the area say they are beefing up security in their homes by adding more cameras and alarms. They are not certain if the measures will help but they said they hope to help San Jose Police by being on alert.

Christina Branca said two burglars picked up a stone from her yard and used it to break into her home on Crescent Avenue in Willow Glen last Thursday morning. She was dropping off her child at pre-school.

"They were walking around like this was their place," said Branca, who lives on a street off of busy Lincoln Avenue. She was hoping to alert her neighbors and now she's learning she's not the only victim.

Home surveillance cameras captured the thieves rummaging through her house. Branca estimates they stole about $48,000 worth of jewelry, including an engagement ring, purses and passports. Branca said they were in the home for 12 minutes.

One of the burglars notices the camera and yanks it from its perch. However, a second camera continued recording their activities.

"We have a Christmas tree," Branca said. "We have stockings. We have pictures of our family. They really treat it like a business."

She posted the video on Nextdoor.com and Facebook, only to hear from others with similar experiences.

"There's at least three people who said this has happened to (them) too," Branca said.

A quick check on San Jose Police's crime mapping website shows six burglaries within a two mile radius of Branca's home since Nov. 1. Samantha Fein-Osborne lives a block away. Her home was broken into six weeks ago at 2 a.m. while her family was sleeping.

The suspects got in through an unlocked back door and tried to steal the family's electronics. They burglars left when the family's home alarm sounded.

"I stayed up all night hugging my babies," Fein-Osborne said. "My husband was out of town so that part was a little bit scary."

Residents in the area said the break-ins should serve as a wake-up call for residents to be vigilant, especially during the holidays when it appears burglars are on the prowl.

"Definitely don't let your guard down," Branca said.

By KTVU reporter Azenith Smith.

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