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Thieves targeting unlocked cars

Thieves are increasingly preying on unlocked cars with valuables inside, according to the Encinitas Sheriff’s Substation.

Sgt. Richard Eaton said too often people leave purses, cell phones, computers and other valuables in their car without locking their doors. Eaton said the solution is simple: close windows, lock doors and don’t leave valuables in sight.

If you must keep valuables in your car while out and about, hide them before reaching your destination, according to the Sheriff’s Department. Otherwise, someone may be watching while you stash the items.

Also, people are urged to hide any signs of valuables, such as cell phone chargers, docking stations and clothing, because a car thief might think there’s something valuable in the pockets.

Eaton said the problem has gotten worse in recent months throughout areas served by the Encinitas Sheriff’s Substation — Del Mar, Solana Beach, Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe. Of auto burglaries since January, 86 percent of the cases have involved cars that weren’t locked, according to Eaton.

Eaton attributed the increase to Proposition 47 — a 2014 California ballot measure that reduced certain property crimes and drug offenses from felonies to misdemeanors.

“It’s always been an issue, but not a problem like it is now,” Eaton said.

People are urged to park in well-lit and well-traveled areas, deterring thieves who don’t want attention. Additionally, residents are asked to record valuables’ serial numbers, which can help track down items in the event they’re stolen and taken to a pawnshop.