MILPITAS, Calif. (KGO) -- With car break-ins on the rise across the region, several cities in the East Bay and the South Bay will soon receive millions of dollars in state surplus funds to help combat the growing problem.
Officials say because the economy is doing well, more people are shopping, and as a result, organized criminals are taking advantage of the circumstances.
"I want to make it safe not just for the residents here, but also for those people that work here, or are visiting here," said Assemblyman Kansen Chu (D-San Jose) who worked to secure the funding from the state.
"These crimes are impacting our quality of life."
Friday morning, Chu presented a check totaling $3.75 million to five police departments in his district: Milpitas, Fremont, Newark, Santa Clara and San Jose, which will each receive $750,000 to help prevent smash and grabs.
These cities have seen double-digit increases in the amount of reported incidents over the past year. In 2018, San Jose alone had more than 6,700 vehicle burglaries called in to the department.
"Behind the statistics, you hear these numbers, there are people and these people are affected by the crime," said San Jose Deputy Chief Shawny Williams.
Police say most of the organized crime rings are coming from Contra Costa and Alameda Counties, as well as San Francisco and San Joaquin Counties. As they get more sophisticated, many now have the tools to detect Bluetooth-enabled devices, even if they're not in plain sight.
"They know when to hit certain shopping locations, they know the shopping centers that have cameras and don't have cameras," said Fremont Capt. Sean Washington. "That's why the partnership and collaboration between all of the agencies is critical."
The departments are still planning how to spend the money, but it will likely go toward overtime funding for investigations, equipment procurement, and community outreach.
"When a computer, a computer bag, a cell phone, maybe even a backpack without valuables in it is left in the open, it's a crime of opportunity," said Milpitas Chief Armando Corpuz. "These offenders are walking through the parking lots, looking through cars, (and) looking to see if they can find valuables."
Five Bay Area cities receive money to combat car break-ins
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