Vallejo car break-in caught on dash camera, but police struggle to catch suspect

Kristen Sze Image
Friday, May 17, 2019
Caught on camera, but not caught: the dashcam challenge
Even though the HD video was crystal clear, Vallejo Police said there's little they could do.

VALLEJO, Calif. (KGO) -- Joe Fraga, his fiancee Hollie and their kids live in Reno, but they often visit the Bay Area. Their favorite destination-- Six Flags Discovery Kingdom. But in March, the couple's trip to Vallejo ended not in amusement, but disappointment.

They were eating at Denny's when they heard a commotion outside. It turns out their truck was one of three vehicles that had been broken into.

Fortunately for Joe, and unfortunately for the burglar, it was recorded by a dash cam.

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The former sheriff's deputy had recently invested in a security system, made by Palo Alto's Owl Cam.

The video shows the burglar making quick work of taking Joe's MacBook Pro and accessories, Hollie's makeup, their clothing and medication.

Denny's general manager Mario Araniego says he called police and an officer did come out that morning. He says he showed the officer the restaurant's surveillance video. And then Joe showed the officer his video.

"And then he said you know, if we had gotten a license plate, we could probably do something about this. But just seeing the guy's face isn't going to be enough."

Joe says the officer told him to file a report online. He did. But he got an email rejection, saying to make a report, he needs to call or show up in person.

ABC7 News reached out to Vallejo Police. They declined to do an on-camera interview.

But they told us one, a license plate is 'not required' for them to take action.

Two, the officer on scene should have taken a report.

And three, Joe's online submission was rejected because if there's video, they want an officer to speak with the victim.

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FBI statistics show Vallejo has one of the highest rates of burglary in California for a city its size.

In 2017, the city had 1,261 thefts from autos. Police say they're trying new deterrence programs such as more patrols at shopping centers and visible police lights.

But at hotels, restaurants and parking lots the broken glass, surveillance cameras and warning signs tell a story-- one that Denny's long-time manager knows first hand.

We asked Araniego if the auto break-ins have gotten worse over 12 years-- he said yes. We then asked if his car has been broken into.

"My car? Yes. They took my navigation system."

Joe says, "I don't have too much hope that anything's gonna be recovered. But I'll take any step I can."

We checked with Vallejo Police. They say they are using the video to try to identify the suspect, but they have not put it out on social.

Meantime, Joe and Hollie accomplished what they intended. They took their kids for a day of fun at Six Flags Discovery Kingdom.

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