May 12, 2016

SCPD Recovers Record # of Stolen Cars - WARNS Auto Theft is on the Rise

Auto Theft is on the Rise - Good news: SCPD has a proven track record for recovering stolen cars.

Through the first four months of the year, our city has seen a 24% increase in car thefts. Since March 1st in the span of two and half months, there have been 72 auto thefts reported.

While it’s not good news to report the upward trend of stolen cars, there is good news in SCPD’s recovery rate of stolen vehicles. In the last 11 weeks, SCPD has recovered 57 cars reported stolen in the City of Santa Cruz. SCPD also found and recovered 12 additional cars that were reported stolen from outside the area. 
Esteban Hernandez, 19 years old from Stockton

On Wednesday 5/11/16 at approximately 1:00 am, a SCPD Officer conducting extra checks in the 300 block of Ocean Street saw a suspicious vehicle. The SCPD Officer checked the license plate on the vehicle and discovered it was stolen. Esteban Hernandez, 19 years old from Stockton was arrested for auto theft. Mr. Hernandez had a booking sheet in his possession from San Jose PD for an arrest dated just days prior for vehicle theft.
Stolen Car Recovered from Esteban Hernandez
In a recent case, an SUV was reported stolen on Thursday May 5, 2016 from residence on the 700 block of Riverside Avenue.  The next day on Friday May 5th, the victim spotted the 1991 Nissan Pathfinder being driven on Soquel Avenue with a different license plates.  The SUV owner recognized the new roof rack installed on his Pathfinder.  The victim followed the vehicle to the Safeway on Morrissey and called 911 to get help from SCPD.
Jay June, 30 years old, transient from Live Oak
SCPD Officers quickly arrived and found Jay June, 30 years old, transient from Live Oak asleep in back of the SUV. The responding officer let Mr. June sleep while observing the vehicle. SCPD Officers contacted Anthony Soza, 19 years old from Santa Cruz after he came out of the grocery store and got back into the Pathfinder. Both Jay June and Anthony Soza were detained and arrested. The pair used a "shaved key" to drive the stolen SUV.

Anthony Soza, 19 years old from Santa Cruz
Officers learned that Mr. Soza had been released from the Santa Cruz County Jail just hours before this arrest. SCPD Officers recognized Mr. June from a history of police contacts that include arrests for theft, drug possession, and drug influence.

A majority of the stolen vehicles are mid-sized coupes and sedans. Sometimes the vehicles were locked at the time of theft. The thief uses a “bumper or shaved” key to access and start the car. It also appears that Honda cars are more likely to be stolen by this method than any other manufacturer. Auto thefts have occurred in both residential and commercial areas.

Through the efforts of our keen-eyed SCPD Patrol Officers these stolen vehicles are frequently recovered. However, the victim’s personal items and various work tools that were inside the stolen car are not always recovered with the vehicle. The car license plates are often stolen as well.
This lovable dog was abandoned inside a stolen car recovered by SCPD on Monday night.
Auto thefts can be prevented and deterred. As a community we can work together in order to prevent such thefts from occurring. Many stolen cars are left unlocked and/or have a not-so-well hidden car key in or on the car. Auto theft is a crime of opportunity. Install an anti-theft device to discourage or slow down thieves and increase the risk of suspect apprehension.

SCPD crime prevention tips to help prevent your vehicle from being stolen.

• Always lock and secure your vehicle, even if you are only going to be away from your vehicle for a couple of minutes.
• Never leave your car running and unattended, or leave the keys in your vehicle.
• Never hide a spare key to your vehicle on or inside the vehicle.
• Park in well-lighted and highly visible areas.
• Consider installing an alarm, an ignition kill switch, a mechanical anti-theft device, or vehicle tracking system.
• If your vehicle is equipped with an alarm or anti-theft device – use it. Thieves are reluctant to steal vehicles if they know the cars can be recovered quickly. Many insurers offer discounts for the types of systems listed below.
• Do not leave valuables in plain view, such as, briefcases, purses, wallets, laptop/camera bags, gym bags, cellular phones, or any electronic items or devices. These types of items make it enticing for thieves.
• Most importantly, always report any suspicious people or vehicles to SCPD. Call 9-1-1. Often times the community reporting and calling the police is what leads to suspects being apprehended.