SAN ANTONIO – Holiday shopping is in full swing, and police say this time also brings out more thieves.
San Antonio police say they see a surge in property crimes — burglars going car to car doing their best Grinch impressions — during the season.
“That’s a whole box of what it looks like to be shotgun ammunition back there. If I’m a burglar, I’m thinking he has ammunition. There’s a gun in here. So, you know, this car obviously gets a failing grade, making themselves a victim,” said SAPD Officer Nick Soliz when he and KSAT reporter Max Massey walked car to car Wednesday morning.
Soliz was able to spot vehicles that made for easy targets.
“I see a backpack in there. I think maybe a college student, maybe a laptop’s in there, maybe some kind of electronic,” Soliz said. “So this would — this car would get a failing grade. They’re making themselves a victim of a burglary-vehicle by leaving that in there.”
It’s a real problem year-round, but especially during the holiday shopping rush — a problem some people know too well.
“My husband had his truck broken into right across from Nordstrom Mall. He was at Cracker Barrel enjoying lunch,” Josie Struthoff said.
Struthoff said she now hides any items and keeps her head on a swivel when shopping.
A lot of vehicles in and around South Texas have window tinting. And that might be problematic for cameras, but it doesn’t make that big a difference for burglars. They can still see in the vehicle and see items they want to take.
“A crime of opportunity — that’s all it takes... They look inside that vehicle, they see electronics, a key, a cellphone, and they’re breaking that vehicle within five to 10 seconds. They have the tools to do it. So how we come back, that is, we just don’t let it happen,” Soliz said.
Soliz said everyone should hide items in their car, stay vigilant, and park in well-lit areas.
“Number one problem is just leaving the property and concealed inside a vehicle and making themselves a victim of burglaries. It’s that easy,” he said. “If they can see it, they’ll take it. If they can’t see it, chances are they’re going to pass right by your car.”
And there is a concerted effort to prevent and stop these crimes.
“Officers, along with detectives, are undercover at various places around the city trying to combat property crime, and it’s a very successful program. It’s very proactive police work,” Soliz said.
This last piece of advice may seem obvious, but it is a constant issue.
“Don’t leave guns in your cars because guns end up in the hands of the wrong people,” Soliz said.
And keep your valuable items with you if possible.
“Conceal all your property if you have to. You just take it with you. It just doesn’t make sense to make yourself a victim of a burglary,” Soliz said.