Fremont: 20 auto burglaries in one night

Police in Fremont are investigating another rash of car break-ins Monday with at least 20 reported auto burglaries in one night.

KTVU first reported about the spike in car break-ins last month with cars at shopping centers being targeted. Most of the break-ins in this recent rash of crimes occurred overnight at apartment complexes throughout the city.

Joseph Swindle discovered not one, but three of his cars broken into with all the passenger side windows smashed. 

The cars were parked at the Mission Peak 2 Apartments, which is a few blocks away from Fremont police headquarters.

“I’m frustrated because nothing was taken,” said Victim Joseph Swindle. “This was just a selfless crime that was done. I work hard for what I do and $1,800 down the toilet.”

Swindle paid $1,800 to replace shattered windows. In total, seven auto break-ins just in his complex. 13 other break-ins at five other apartment complexes happened between Sunday and Monday night. Police believe three of them are related based on proximity and the M.O. 

“Right now, auto burglaries has almost doubled compared to last year,” said Detective Rick Zemlok of Fremont Police. “Even though it's a lower-level offense, it's a property crime; it's plaguing our community.”

Fremont Police are ramping up special operations, cracking down on auto burglaries after seeing more than 300 since the first of the year. KTVU rode along with officers on a recent operation.

12 officers from patrol to specialty units had their eyes on 10 crime hot spots; scouring mainly shopping centers for suspicious vehicles.

Fremont Police said typically local criminals hit residential areas, whereas organized out-of-town offenders target retail centers looking for laptops that are sold to various buyers and then ultimately shipped overseas.

Police have put up cameras, signs upon entering and traffic barriers so the getaway to a freeway isn’t as quick and they're warning the community especially since crooks often use an inexpensive "glass breaking" tool bought online. Police said criminals know it's easy money.

“One of the phrases we heard them say,” said Det. Zemlok. “Property crime do no time. They know they can do these crimes. They can make a lot of money doing it.”

Swindle said this crime has sealed the deal in his decision to move out of Fremont, frustrated with property management.

“My advice is just like we've been doing,” said Swindle. “Make sure all your valuables are out of your car and nothing is in sight which is what we did.”

Fremont Police are following up on leads with these break-ins from Sunday night. In the meantime, they're hoping to drive down demand.

They said don't leave valuables in trunks. Crooks are now breaking windows and hitting the trunk release or pulling down the back seat to gain access to a trunk.