The Santa Barbara Police Department, which has investigated 123 vehicle thefts since January, 64 of them reported since May, reminds members of the public to lock their vehicles and remove any potential spare keys from visible areas inside or around the vehicle.

Following are some crime prevention tips:

» Remove valuables from your vehicle and remove hide-a-keys.
» Do not leave your car running and unattended, even for a short time.
» Contact police if you witness suspicious activity, especially activity in and around parking lots or neighborhoods.
» When able, park in well-lit areas.
» Install safety features in your vehicle.
» Close your vehicle’s windows.

If your vehicle is stolen, contact local law enforcement immediately and provide the year, make, model, and license plate number, as well as a timeframe for the theft of the vehicle. It is important to also contact your vehicle insurance provider to make them aware of the theft.

The Santa Barbara Property Crimes Unit urges community members to be cautious of various phone and online scams that occur daily nationwide. The scams are often internationally based, however will represent a local area code using caller identification spoofing applications.

These scam artists often prey on unsuspecting citizens and are persistent with their questions and threats.

Recently, the Santa Barbara Police Department has received reports of scams in which the caller claimed to be a representative from their financial institution and deceitfully provided instructions to the unsuspecting victims to allow the suspects access to their computer remotely.

The victims later realized the suspects were conducting wire transfers from their online accounts. In addition, some of the calls have included requests by the suspects for victims to purchase gift cards to pay “debts” that do not exist.

Be aware of such scams and do not disclose financial information, Social Security numbers, addresses, or other personal identifying information unless the caller can be verified through other means. If the caller is asking you to purchase gift cards for payments of liens, debts, taxes, etc., the call is scam.

For individuals concerned that they are the victim of a scam, or are concerned for a family member or friend, resources are available to assist in prevention and federal investigations.

See the following Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) web links to send complaints of scams and/or learn further about various other scams currently being tracked — FTC,; FBI,