Eureka police officers have arrested a man connected to a series of vehicle break-ins and burglaries committed in areas around Henderson Center and the Eureka Mall.
It was in the early morning hours on Monday when officers responded to a report of two vehicle burglaries in the area and they received a detailed description of the suspect who was soon found in the 2900 block of California Street.
Officers arrested 23-year-old Melecio Sandoval and he was booked into county jail on suspicion of burglary and of possession of a controlled substance.
Sandoval’s arrest led to the discovery of items reported stolen in three other vehicle break-ins that occurred earlier Monday morning.
The number of thefts prompted police Tuesday to warn residents to take caution regarding leaving valuables in vehicles.
“I got back from the weekend and the patrol sergeants said they had seen a sharp increase in vehicle burglaries and break-ins,” said EPD Capt. Brian Stephens. “We have been working on that for the past couple of days and we are taking aggressive action and give the public a heads-up. We want to get his picture out and we want people to know who he is and we want the public to know we are addressing this issue.”
Eureka police reported a series of vehicle burglaries had occurred in the area since Nov. 1 and, according to Stephens, thieves will spot something of value sitting on a car seat or even some change collected in a cup holder and a vehicle break-in doesn’t take a lot of time.
“These are crimes of opportunity and it only takes 30 seconds to break a car window reach in and grab something of value,” Stephens said. “It’s amazing how minimal an item can be and yet the thief has now caused thousands of dollars in damage to a car. I have run into people who would only steal the spare change in a car, anything they can use to support their lifestyle and then walk away. If you didn’t actually see them break the window and get a description, they are just another person walking down the street wearing a backpack.”
The holiday shopping season presents plenty of opportunities for vehicle theft and residents are urged to use caution and pay attention to where they are and to take note of any suspicious activity around them.
To avoid being a victim of a vehicle burglary, you are urged to keep anything that may even appear to be of value out of site, not to leave the car running while it’s warming up and to not leave the garage door opener in your car.
“We want to keep residents alert, because how many times are we going to be in the area of a vehicle theft and be able to get the thief right away?” Stephens said. “We have our special units monitoring the crime reports and we will adjust our resources accordingly. We want to give the public a heads-up and let them know these crimes are occurring and how to protect themselves. This guy (Sandoval) was not the only person committing these crimes, so be vigilant in what you are doing.”