Smash and Grab Robbers Target Scenic Spots

Tourist beware: robbers have been targeting beauty spots around the Bay Area

They came for the view, but left with a puddle of broken glass.

That's the unfortunate experience visitors to national parks in the Bay Area will be writing home about, as the parks in San Francisco and Marin County see an increase in car break-ins.

National Park Police say smash-and-grab style break-ins are normal as the weather improves and more visitors are out. But recently the break-ins have taken an ominous twist.

"We've seen an increase in organized efforts by groups of people to case parking lots," said park spokeswoman Alexandra Picavet.

Picavet said police have observed suspects in cars cruising slowly past parking lots near scenic spots like the Cliff House, Battery Spencer in the Marin Headlands, and Battery East near Crissy Field.

Park police have increased patrols as a result.

They've also begun posting "report cards" on people's cars based on how many personal items are visible in the front seat.

"Whether you did a good job, or a poor job you'll get one of these report cards," Picavet said. "It just says 'we've seen an increase in this type of criminal activity.'"

At Ocean Beach, surfer Jason Roth wasn't surprised to hear about the increase in break-ins.

"When you're coming down the beach at like eight in the morning there's just tons of glass," Roth said.

Roth said he and a fellow surfer recently watched from the waves as a crook broke into a friend's car, stole his laptop, and locked the door before leaving.

Picavet said scenic spots offer the perfect opportunity for the crooks, since visitors get drawn into the views, and often wander away from their car.

At Battery Spencer, overlooking the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay, three parking places were covered in broken window glass -- evidence of a bad afternoon, not even a startling view could heal.

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