In an effort to drive home the risk of leaving valuables in a parked vehicle, the Santa Barbara Police Department staged a mock car burglary Thursday morning.
With a scrum of TV and newspaper cameras at the ready, a detective posing as a car thief shattered the window of a car on loan from Allstate Insurance, and then made off with a laptop computer.
“It is surprisingly easy to break into a car if you have the right tool,” said Lt. Paul McCaffrey, the spokesman of the Santa Barbara Police Department.
The toothbrush-sized implement used by Detective Craig Rullman is known as a spring-loaded window punch.
Lt. McCaffrey said the number of car thefts in Santa Barbara can reach one a day during the summer months, which tend to be more crime-ridden.
Patrick Torsney of Allstate Insurance said the damage to the car amounted to just over $251.60. If a person has a $250 deductible, he said, the insurance company would cover only $1.60.
The moral of the story is simple: Do not leave valuables inside a parked car. Thieves are often lying in wait nearby, perhaps in the bushes near a popular hiking trail, or in the shadows near the parking lot of a gym, watching for people who leave purses, wallets and iPods in their vehicles.
“We don’t want to make people paranoid, but that little extra prevention can really help you out,” Torsney said.