Five vehicles were damaged and burglarized in the course of an hour Wednesday night in or near the Monte Vista Crossings shopping center, Turlock police reported.
"All of them had their windows smashed and items stolen," Turlock Police Department spokesman Sgt. Russell Holeman said. Among the property stolen were backpacks, iPads and laptops, he said.
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"We remind people to not leave any items of value visible in their vehicle," he said. "Park in well-lit areas and in areas where their vehicle will be visible to themselves and the general public when possible."
In an article on the website Blue Collar Workman, headlined "Tips from a former car thief on how to protect your car," the author writes that thieves work fast. He'd spend no more than 20 seconds on a car. "It means that the 'just a sec' that you 'run in' to drop off your library book or pick up your carry-out dinner is all we needed. Actually, way more than we needed."
One of his tips is to put belongings in your vehicle's trunk, if it has one. "We never broke into a car and popped the trunk. Never. There wasn’t time. So if there’s something that you need to leave in your car (suitcase, GPS, sports equipment, etc), just throw it in your trunk. We never had the time to look in there."
A CNN article includes this advice: "Stash before — not after — you park Get in the habit of putting shopping bags in the trunk right when you return to the vehicle, rather than after you park at the next place. According to National Insurance Crime Bureau spokesman Frank Scafidi, thieves sometimes linger in busy parking lots looking for valuables being moved out of sight. Don't display to them what you have."
Turlock police have no suspect or vehicle descriptions related to Wednesday's break-ins. Anyone with information on the crimes is urged to call the Turlock Police Department at 209-668-5550, or Stanislaus Area Crime Stoppers at 209-521-4636. Callers can remain anonymous and may be eligible for cash reward.