For the past two weekends, Burbank police officers have issued theft-prevention notices in parking garages and lots to vehicles that appear to be prime bait for burglars.
The citations, which do not include a fine, warn drivers of risk factors that increase the chances of being a victim of theft, including unlocked doors, windows not rolled up and personal belongings, such as docking stations and connecting cables for electronic devices, left in full view.
“We found many cars with their doors unlocked and purses and shopping bags sitting out in plain view,” said Community Resource Officer Cindy Guillen.
During one of the sweeps of the parking lot in the Empire Shopping Center during lunchtime, officers distributed almost 150 of the citations, she added.
Cars parked in structures in or near the Burbank Town Center — common targets for third-row seat and petty thefts — were also cited as part of the outreach.
At least 15 thefts have occurred in the structure this year, according to police records.
“Prevention is not going to solve all the problems,” said Burbank Police Chief Scott LaChasse. “But we’re going to put the effort up front as we go forward.”
Burbank police arrested two men on April 16 who were allegedly looking into parked vehicles inside the Islands restaurant parking structure at 250 N. First St.
The men, Richard Valdez, 23, and Miguel Estrada, 20 — both of Los Angeles and with past arrests for theft — were arrested for allegedly receiving stolen property that officers found in their vehicle.
Valdez and Estrada had yet to be charged.
Burbank has seen a surge in automobile burglaries involving third-row seats and global satellite positioning systems from 2003 to 2007, especially among General Motors SUVs. The vehicles are often entered by either punching out the door lock or when the door is left unlocked, according to police reports.
Burbank police recommend parking in well-lit lots with high traffic and with some form of security when possible. The department also recommends securing the third-row seats to the rest of the vehicle.
Anyone who sees suspicious activity should obtain as much information as possible and call police at (818) 238-3000.