FREMONT, Calif. (KTVU) - Fremont Police are sounding a warning about an alarming surge in the number of car break-ins taking place in the city. Police said in the last six weeks, there’s been more than 300 auto burglaries. 22 break-ins happened in a 48-hour period.
In surveillance video from the Ranch 99 parking lot in Fremont, a man in a red-hooded sweatshirt gets out of a black SUV. Police said the car was reported stolen. The man shines a flashlight into a parked car, a gray Prius. He breaks the back windshield, using a burglary tool and grabs valuables. He takes off. It happens in a matter of seconds. The victim is seen chasing after him.
It’s a scene that keeps playing out in the city of Fremont over and over again.
“We’ve noticed over the last two months, we've had a surge of auto burglaries,” said Fremont Police Lt. Michael Tegner. “We've had over 300 in the last six weeks which is a major increase from what we had over the end of last year.”
Fremont Police said the break-ins typically occur at night at gym parking lots and shopping centers. Five known hotspots include City Sports, Pacific Commons, Ranch 99, Marina Market and ClubSport.
“People will go in to get a cup of coffee,” said Lt. Tegner. “They will go in and get dinner for the evening, go watch a movie in a large parking lot. That’s where we are having a lot of these occur.”
This month, police made 11 arrests mostly juveniles in eight days. They are not from Fremont and not part of one crew. Police said it's a lucrative crime. Electronics are in high demand for their resale value at flea markets and overseas and that may be the reason behind the uptick.
“Maybe there's a new stream of money that's going into the marketplace for stolen laptops,” said Lt. Tegner.
At Pacific Commons, KTVU didn't have to look far to find someone who knew about the problem.
“We witness people calling security all the time, telling them their car got broken into,” said Daniel Plascencia of Hayward. “There’s always security guards all over the place.”
Police said half of the victims are Fremont residents and the other half are visiting from out of town and may not be aware of the problem.
“I’ve been victimized,” said Plascencia. “I've been in that situation. It just sucks. One window costs $120.”
"Help us out because if you take away the product, then you take away the loss which the majority of the time these burglars won't get into your car,” said Lt. Tegner.
Police said burglars are popping trunks and looking for valuables there. Fremont Police have extra patrols at shopping centers. Fremont Police are also thinking about using digital sign boards near off ramps to warn people.