Tesla Model 3 catches vandal in the act in Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (KGO) -- Car break-ins continue to plague the Bay Area, but police in the Mission City are preparing to boost patrols ahead of the holiday season to help combat the issue.

"We'll have additional patrol officers in marked vehicles-- saturating these types of areas where the suspects like to strike," said Santa Clara Police Capt. Wahid Kazem.

RELATED: Caught on Camera: Tesla's Sentry Mode captures fan kicking, damaging vehicle after 49ers game at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara

In October, more than 400 vehicles were vandalized or burglarized in Santa Clara. Police say thieves are hitting up large commercial parking lots near freeways and expressways because it's easy for them to escape.

"People (are) leaving backpacks, laptop cases, cell phone items, near what is visible to the outside," said Kazem.

Robert Sun, who had his Tesla Model 3 vandalized Thursday evening in the parking lot of the Lawrence Square shopping center off El Camino Real, was grateful that the entire incident was caught on camera. He has since turned over the evidence to detectives.

"It was just kind of frightening to see what exactly like happened," Sun said.

These days, criminals are using new technology to pick up Bluetooth-enabled devices, even if they're not in plain sight. But vehicles are becoming more advanced, and in some cases, provide valuable video evidence.

Sun added, "You shouldn't break into cars in the first place but you should also not break into Teslas because they can catch everything that you're doing."

RELATED: Suspected burglar caught after California man's Tesla records its own break-in with Sentry Mode in San Francisco

In fact, a camera recorded a 49ers fan kicking in the trunk of a Tesla Model X during a recent game at Levi's Stadium. Police are reviewing that case and say every bit of information helps.

"At the end of every one of these reports and cases is a victim who lost something that's very valuable to them and we understand that," says Kazem, who added the department is taking a data-driven approach to analyzing where and when these break-ins occur.

This year, Santa Clara was one of five police departments in the Bay Area to each receive $750,000 from the state to help prevent smash and grabs.
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