Smash and grab crime thieves migrating from San Francisco to Southern California

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It looks like diamonds in the street, but it's actually broken glass.

It's a driver's worst friend and, these days---the kind of card we never want to see.

"Very common," said Cathy Alari of Oakland.

As common as everyday crime. Read the signs. And if you're parked in a popular tourist destination or any public street, beware of the smash and grab.

RELATED: 71 car break-ins reported at Golden Gate Bridge parking lot

"Don't they do that in every city?" asked Dave LeCompte from Philadelphia.

"Leave nothing in your car," lectured a woman from Toronto, Canada.

So maybe people are getting the message. San Francisco Police report that last year, the number of break-ins declined by 3 percent. But that has meant bad news in Southern California, where break-ins have increased by an average of 30 percent.

Police say the culprits are some of the same gangs who had been working in Northern California.

"They are becoming savvy," said Lt. Matt Stonebraker if the Richmond Police Department. "They know this area is saturated, so they want more areas with people who are not expecting to be burglarized."

RELATED: Smash-and-grab at Southern California mall sets off shopper panic

In Los Angeles's Hollywood Division, police say one Oakland gang hit 40 different cars last April. They broke into cars and handing the goods off to getaway specialists on scooters.

"It's our understanding that in the bay area they can get a thousand dollars for each bag of merchandise they are able to trade," said Detective Douglas Oldfield.

North or South, these crimes of opportunity leave victims feeling exactly the same. Kathy Ajari is disgusted with the trend.

"If I left this plastic bag in there, they would break-in. Just no conscience. There are no consequences."

Though some consequences may be on the way.

State Senator Scott Weiner wants a change in the law, making it easier to prosecute offenders for felony burglary instead of misdemeanor theft.

A smashed window would provide the evidence.

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