Customers' cars stolen in Berkeley auto-repair shop burglary

The co-owner of a Berkeley auto-repair shop said Thursday that he's rethinking security after thieves broke in and stole four cars belonging to customers as well as other equipment.

"It feels [like] a lot of insecurity," said Victor Delgado of Autometrics Car Repair near San Pablo Avenue and Gilman Street in North Berkeley.

The shop was targeted by thieves previously back in February. This time, though, the intruders stole much more.

"We don't know when it's going to happen again or how, or what, so yeah, it's not a good feeling doing business around here," Delgado said.

The latest break-in happened late on the night of May 17 and into the next morning.

Surveillance video shows a Chrysler Pacifica minivan backing up in the rear of the shop.

"First they go into the back, and they try to push the rolling door with a car," Delgado said.

But it didn't work. 

A man then walks up to the door and inspects it. He then walks to the front of the business, breaks through the Plexiglas in the front rollup door - and then dives headfirst into the shop.

From there intruders used one of the shop's tools to break a lock.

Over the next several hours, five to six intruders stole a Honda Accord, a VW Golf station wagon, Kia Sorento and BMW 325. The BMW's owner had just gotten the car a week earlier, and it was ready for pickup after undergoing thousands of dollars in repairs.

The thieves also stole a rolling toolbox, shop equipment and electronics.

The group ransacked the front office, taking a couple of hundred dollars and even an antique cash register.

The shop had installed cameras after the first break-in. Now, Delgado says he'll have to rethink security once again.

"We're changing our system of operation regarding locks and keys," he said.

Delgado said it's frustrating because the shop's been serving the neighborhood for decades.

"We're trying to serve the community, make some living, you know, put our kids through college," he said.

Berkeley police are investigating. 


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