Auto burglaries, car thefts on the rise

Crime data for 2018 shows dip in residential burglary reports

Reports of stolen vehicles and car break-ins rose in Mountain View in 2018 while residential burglaries took a dip, according to preliminary data released by the Mountain View Police Department.

The mixed property crime trends for the city come amid a small increase in reports of some violent crimes, police said, including robbery and a range of assault charges.

While the numbers are still subject to change as final police reports roll in from December, the department's tally shows 622 auto burglaries occurred in Mountain View in 2018, a 12 percent increase over last year and the highest number in at least a decade. As in the past few years, car burglaries are increasingly concentrated in specific parking lots and areas of the city.

The Century Cinema 16 parking lots in North Bayshore are one example. About one in six of the reported burglaries in the entire city, 102 cases in total, took place in the theater's parking lots in 2018, according to crime tracking website CrimeReports. This includes a burglary spree in November where thieves smashed the windows of 18 vehicles on a Friday night, stealing everything from clothes to laptops.

The number of reported auto burglaries in the downtown area, specifically the two closest blocks to Castro Street, also rose sharply last year, more than doubling to 147 from 60 last year, according to the website. Though dispersed throughout the downtown corridor, the highest concentration in any one spot was the public parking lot in the 800 block of Bryant Street.

The small In-N-Out Burger parking lot on N. Rengstorff Avenue, frequently a target due to its close proximity to Highway 101, had 72 reported burglaries in 2018. Last month was far and away the worst month for auto burglaries in recent years, exceeding 100 reported thefts.

Perhaps the starkest change from last year is the rise in stolen vehicle or attempted stolen vehicle reports, which shot up by nearly 62 percent from 105 in 2017 to 170. Vehicle thefts were generally reported from residential areas north of El Camino Real and were far less likely to occur in commercial or retail centers.

The number of residential burglaries decreased in 2018 by 12.7 percent, from 180 cases to 157, while the number of commercial burglaries increased slightly, from 118 cases to 125. CrimeReports shows the neighboring Palo Alto Police Department received reports of 95 residential burglaries and 137 commercial burglaries over the same year, though the comparison isn't perfect -- Palo Alto has thousands fewer housing units than Mountain View.

In terms of violent crime, robberies and attempted robberies were up compared to 2017, from 46 reported cases to 55, and a mix of assault charges -- ranging from battery to assault with a deadly weapon -- increased from 283 reported incidents to 298, according to police.

Arrests for drug sales or possession of a controlled substance with intent to sell were down in 2018 and primarily took place at Shoreline Amphitheatre. Arrests for sale of a controlled substance halved from 10 cases in 2017 to five last year, while cases of possession with intent to sell dipped from 17 to 14 cases.

While local law enforcement officials have been hesitant to attribute crime trends to any one particular cause, a police report published last year noted that Mountain View is not immune from broad Bay Area crime trends, and that the city -- like other jurisdictions -- is facing an increase in property crimes like auto burglaries.

"Suspects who quickly target unattended valuables make it difficult to suppress these crimes, but there has been some success with arresting offenders, to include the prosecution of sophisticated gang members," according to the 2017 annual report. "Preventing these crimes has also been a priority for our community engagement strategy."

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24 people like this
Posted by Dan Waylonis
a resident of Jackson Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 2:09 pm

Dan Waylonis is a registered user.

Since two major hot spots have been identified (In-n-out and Shoreline Theater), it seems like increasing a police presence there seems like a great idea.

26 people like this
Posted by Billy Bob
a resident of Bailey Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 2:27 pm

The City Council and Police continue to ignore the issue . We need more enforcement in our city

7 people like this
Posted by SomeYoungGuy
a resident of Castro City
on Jan 18, 2019 at 3:12 pm

Every night, I see police officers parked in the Google parking lot (Villa Street location), typically facing the Shoreline overpass, just a couple blocks from the police station. It might make more sense for them to monitor the Century Cinema parking lot instead.

15 people like this
Posted by LikeToWatch
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 18, 2019 at 3:14 pm

LikeToWatch is a registered user.

Why is taxpayer money targeted for a new police station instead of increased staffing? It is rare to see MVPD presence on the roadways, compared with adjacent Sunnyvale.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood

on Jan 18, 2019 at 3:57 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

19 people like this
Posted by Dr. Demento
a resident of Gemello
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:11 pm

Residential burglaries down. Auto burglaries up. But since so many people live in their cars, aren't auto burglaries counted as residential now?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood

on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:30 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

19 people like this
Posted by William Hitchens
a resident of Waverly Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:32 pm

William Hitchens is a registered user.

Are the City of Mountain View, and the MV Voice, willing to give us a weekly updated map of the exact places in MV where all reported crimes occur? Only then we'd know if our families, homes and autos are threatened. It would be really great to know also just who, if anybody, has been arrested and charged and exactly where they committed their crimes and where they live. Time to identify "problem neighborhoods and problem residents" and to start cleaning up Mountain View to improve safety and quality of life.

17 people like this
Posted by Convicitons
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:39 pm

we need long convictions for the animals who prey on the 99.9%

2 people like this
Posted by Ha, There
a resident of Another Mountain View Neighborhood
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:40 pm

Oh and I agree with William

25 people like this
Posted by Cog
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Jan 18, 2019 at 4:53 pm

I think the auto break-ins are crimes of opportunity, but there are 2 steady trends I have noticed. The first are auto break-in rings, people from outside the city drive here, hit a certain spot and then leave. It used to be separate spots around the city, but now I think they mostly focus on commercial areas.

The second is individual thieves on bicycles late at night. I have spotted them several times, and even followed one back to the aparments on the Sunnvyale/Bernardo border before he spotted me and took off. Always middle of the night, always hood + face mask and sometimes goggles or glasses. They have a flat head screwdriver, pry bar and sometimes a slim jim in their back pocket. I can't believe the police have not stepped up patrols late at night to fight this.

12 people like this
Posted by AllYouCanEat
a resident of Monta Loma
on Jan 19, 2019 at 3:02 am

Everyone, save your breath. Nothing is gona change. We have red light runners, speeders, burst speeding, RVs illegally parked, bike lane violators, cross walk violators, parcel pirates, auto break-ins and never a Police car in site... With the exception of the one cop that parks in the Google installation at Villa St. and Shoreline.

4 people like this
Posted by ButWhy
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Jan 20, 2019 at 7:56 pm

It is interesting why Inn-n-Out has so many burgalries but not Costco? WHy isn't In-N-Out hiring extra private security to take care of their customers? They sure can charge 5 or 10 cents to the bill if they think hiring private security hits their bottomline.
I understand cops can't be everywhere all the time. Century Theaters shoul d definitely hire private security especially on Thurs,Fri and Saturday to watch their parking lot.

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