According to data from Marin County Sheriffs Department, there have been 229 reported auto burglaries in 2019 so far.
That's a 29% boost from 2018's total of 178 reported auto burglaries and the highest for the county in the last 7 years.
Novato @NovatoPolice give these signs away. Not like people read them. We watched one woman walk from her car with a MacBook inside. Another left her purse. No wonder these window smashing crimes are up 90% in California. #abc7now pic.twitter.com/P46Gj4fDnW— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) December 2, 2019
"Okay, what is the year?" is a question Rebeca Medina asks many times a day.
Spend a few years in the North Bay, and you're likely to visit her at Marin Auto Glass and tell her your tale of woe.
Often, those stories begin like this, from a woman in a shopping mall.
"I'm going to be right there for one second. My computer is safe."
RELATED: Car break-ins probably more common than number reported by police, says auto glass repair expert
Too often, the stories end with broken glass a description of loss.
"What was in the backpack?" I asked the tearful woman named Tammy.
"Work stuff. Credit cards. Debit card. Veterans card. New License."
And that happened, despite seeing warning signs about locking her car and hiding her stuff when she parked in a Novato Restaurant.
She's still smiling, but about $300 lighter after a burglar smashed and grabbed through that rear window, even with nothing showing or inside. These crimes are increasing. Workman at Marin Auto Glass says 90 percent of his jobs are broken windows. #abc7now #smashandgrab #novato pic.twitter.com/k1fsAh4WK9— Wayne Freedman (@WayneFreedman) December 2, 2019
Local police give the signs away way for free, but auto break-ins have become a state-wide issue. They have increased by 90-percent in the past year.
"You've got to lock your car. Make sure you hide your valuables or take them with you," said Novato Police Detective Sergeant Trevor Hall.
Back at Marin Auto Glass, this is old news. "I mean so mean people are outside their car for 15-20 minutes. It happened to me!" said Rebeca.
RELATED: San Francisco begins aggressive plan to address car break-ins
In the shop, Eddie Lewis says 90 percent of his work has to do with repairing break-ins. While we took pictures of him, Ana Silva drove in with a broken rear side window.
"I just had a yellow water bottle in the back. No clothes. Nothing. Why did they want the water bottle? I don't know."
We do know this, Ana is out $300 and that's no small bill for a college student on a budget.
The Central Marin Police Authority issued these safety recommendations:
- Never leave anything valuable or visible in your car
- Take your purse, wallet, backpack, electronics and GPS device out of the car
- Never leave house keys in the vehicle or have your garage door opener in plain sight
- Remember to lock your car doors, even when your car is parked at home in your driveway
- If you notice any suspicious activity in your neighborhood, or a person looking in to cars or trying car doors, call 911