May 17, 2017

Great SCPD police work recovers stolen vehicle in an hour! Officer returns truck to owner ASAP

On Tuesday, 5/16/17, approximately 7:38 am, SPCD Officer Burnham responded to the report of a stolen vehicle downtown on the 1100 block of Pacific Avenue. About an hour later, PO Burnham spotted the stolen Toyota 4Runner driving on River Street. A high-risk car stop was conducted, and the driver plus two occupants were detained without incident. The driver, Phillip Penn, 42-years-old, transient from Santa Cruz, was arrested for auto theft. 

The follow-up investigation located video surveillance footage confirming Phillip Penn as the subject who stole the vehicle. Evidence indicated that the steering column was damaged to employ a hot-wire technique to start the engine. In short order, SCPD officers returned the stolen truck to the grateful owner.

Auto theft is on the rise; the positive news is SCPD has a proven track record for recovering stolen cars. In the last 30 days, SCPD has recovered 35 cars reported stolen in the City of Santa Cruz.

As a community, we can work together 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.

SCPD Tips To Prevent Auto Theft 
• 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.
• Do not leave valuables in plain view, such as briefcases, purses, wallets, laptop/camera bags, gym bags or cellular phones. 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.

The Santa Cruz Police Department continues to encourage residents to be partners in public safety. Anyone with information regarding criminal activity is encouraged to contact the Santa Cruz Police Department at (831) 420-5820 or Anonymous Tip Line (831) 420-5995.