A spike in auto burglaries this month has the Santa Barbara Police Department urging residents to take valuable objects out of their vehicles.

The department has responded in November to about 40 such cases—more than double the usual monthly amount, said Lt. Paul McCaffrey, spokesman for the department. McCaffrey said the city often witnesses a rash of crime around the holiday season.

The vast majority of the incidents are “smash and grab,” he said, meaning the crime can be accomplished in a matter of seconds.

McCaffrey said the hardest hit areas include the downtown parking garages, streets surrounding Santa Barbara City College on Cliff Drive, and upper Eastside neighborhoods. Other areas have been preyed upon as well.

“The most common attractant for thieves has been I-Pod music devices, followed by purses, wallets, backpacks, and other small electronics,” McCaffrey said in a statement. “In some cases, the burglary victim hid their I-Pod but left the distinctive white colored cord plugged into the stereo.

Sometimes, he said, the burglar lies in wait, watching the victim hide his or her valuables under the seat. Many car burglaries occur at night.

The Santa Barbara Police Department has arrested three people in the past two weeks in connection with the burglaries, McCaffrey said.

“Thieves are roaming parking lots looking for valuables and opportunities to strike,” McCaffrey warned. “A suspect can break automotive glass, snatch valuables left in plain sight, and flee the scene in mere seconds.”

To bust the glass, the thieves use a variety of objects, from pry bars to rocks and bricks.

McCaffrey offered the public the following pieces of advice:

*      Do not leave valuables or evidence of valuables inside vehicle passenger areas. This includes I-Pod cords, backpacks, or hastily hidden purses.

*    Lock valuables in the trunk before arriving at your destination.

*      Be aware of your surroundings. Report suspicious activity to police.