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Burglary Spree Hits Santa Barbara Neighborhoods

Police say out-of-towners and/or teams of thieves may be behind a recent rash of residential break-ins

Burglars smashed the rear door of a Santa Barbara home to gain access during a recent spree of break-ins in the city.
Burglars smashed the rear door of a Santa Barbara home to gain access during a recent spree of break-ins in the city. (Kim Clark / Noozhawk photo)

Santa Barbara experienced 21 unusual residential burglaries between Feb. 3 and March 6, a disturbing trend that has police on high alert. 

The break-ins have all occurred during daytime hours, hitting homes everywhere from San Roque to Las Positas, to the Mesa and the lower Riviera. Two other similar daytime break-ins occurred just outside the city limits near Montecito during that time period, bringing the total to 23. 

"It's possible these are people from out-of-town," Santa Barbara police Sgt. Riley Harwood said. "It could be several perpetrators acting together."

There were no daytime break-ins similar to the recent burglaries during the same period in 2014. The last time the Police Department saw anything like this recent spree was 2011, Sgt. Harwood said.

Police said the suspects typically knock on the door or ring the doorbell of the targeted residence to check whether anyone is at home. If no one answers, the suspect then smashes a window or glass door to enter the house and wipe the house of valuables.

Harwood said the suspects are typically staking out the house to see what hours someone may be at the residence. 

Police officers have made no arrests.

Santa Barbara resident Kim Clark's home was broken into on March 6. The thieves broke the glass on a back door to gain entry and stole money, jewelry and other items.

"I felt very violated," said Clark, vice president of business development for Noozhawk.

Clark arrived home last Friday at 4:45 p.m. with her twin teenage daughters when she noticed that the front door was ajar. They were puzzled as to why the door was open. Inside, Clark saw the shattered glass door where the suspects most likely gained entry into the house. Drawers in her and her husband's home offices were open and items were disheveled. 

SBPD burglary
Nearly two dozen residential burglaries were reported in Santa Barbara between Feb. 3 and March 6. Police say the last time such a spree occurred was 2011. (Santa Barbara Police Department map)

The thieves ransacked the house and walked away with pearls, a ruby and diamond ring, a necklace, earrings, a bracelet and other jewelry items estimated to be worth about $3,000. They also stole cash and two iPads that belonged to Clark's daughters.

Oddly, one of the crooks swiped a bottle of water from the refrigerator, leaving the half-empty bottle behind. 

Police officers arrived on the scene about an hour after Clark called 9-1-1. They were backed up from the five other residential burglaries that occurred that day. Clark said she got over the ordeal by praying about it and appreciating "the abundance" she has in her life.

"I lost some things, but they are just things," Clark said. "I pray that they (the suspects) will be caught so they can be helped."

The Police Department has suggested the following tips to avoid a burglary. If your home has been broken into:

» Do not enter — the perpetrator may still be inside.

» Use a cell phone or neighbor’s phone to call 9-1-1.

» Do not touch anything or clean up until the police have inspected for evidence.

» Write down the license numbers of any suspicious vehicles.

» Note the descriptions of any suspicious people.

The following crime prevention tips may deter burglars or aid in the investigation of a crime:

» Ensure that security alarms are in good working order.

» Consider installing a web-based security camera system. These systems will enable homeowners to monitor activity from their smartphones and alert their devices when there is activity.

» Ensure that all access points (gates, doors, windows, etc.) are secured with sturdy locks and mechanisms.

» Make your home look occupied. Arrange for mail, newspapers and fliers to be collected and your lawn to be mowed while you are away.

» Leave lights on when you go out. Keep some lights on timers so they are on at night and off during the day.

» Have adequate exterior lighting. Consider motion-sensitive lights for side areas and backyards.

» Trim trees, hedges and shrubs so they do not create hiding places for intruders.

» Mark your valuables with an engraver.

» Inventory your valuables with photographs and note their serial numbers, dates of purchase and original values. Keep this information in a safe location that can be accessed quickly to provide to the police in the event of theft.

» Be a good neighbor. If you notice anything suspicious in your neighborhood call 9-1-1. Consider forming a Neighborhood Watch group to improve security and reduce the risk of crime. For more information, call the Police Department at 805.897.2407.    

Noozhawk staff writer Joshua Molina can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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