San Francisco

South Bay Cities Receive State Funding to Battle Spike in Car Break-Ins

Sacramento is giving the South Bay a shot in the arm to help combat the dramatic rise in car break-ins.

Millions of dollars from the state to combat what's been a growing problem in the Bay Area, especially in the South Bay where law enforcement has seen a huge spike in smash and grabs of parked cars.

A major reason, officials cite, for the spike is a combination of the economy doing good, shopping centers thriving and organized criminals knowing and taking advantage of the situation.

On Friday, Assemblymember Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, presented five local police departments with money to try to combat the thefts.

Chu was able to secure $3.7 million in surplus funds from the state to split evenly among Fremont, Milpitas, Newark, San Jose and Santa Clara. The cities will receive about $750,000 each that will be used for public awareness, business outreach, overtime for officers, signs and equipment to deter theft.

Officials said organized groups from San Francisco, Alameda, Contra Costa and San Joaquin counties are committing the crimes and selling the goods overseas.

The group works in shifts up and down the Bay Area's major highways -- Interstate 880 and Highways 237 and 101. They are primarily looking for laptops, cellphones and other electronics.

Law enforcement is encouraging people to not leave those items in their car. Those items if needed to be stored in a vehicle should be left in the trunk and in airplane mode. Thieves have equipment that can detect signals, officials said.

The Fremont police captain said officers recently intercepted a container full of over 1,000 laptops headed overseas, where it would fetch millions. That container represented just a weekend worth of stealing.

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