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Home Burglaries Still a Big Problem in San Carlos.

November 14, 2012 Living in San Carlos 5 Comments

Peninsula a Huge Target.

Despite what you may have read about the resurgence of our micro-economy between San Francisco and Silicon Valley, not everyone in the Bay Area is basking in the glow of a healthy high-tech job market and a strong stock market.   The chasm between the “have’s” and the “have-not’s” is producing a growing number of desperate people who are resorting to more and more brazen acts to get money – namely home burglaries — and the Peninsula is proving to be fertile hunting grounds.

And why not?  As the economy and job market here continue to improve, so does consumer confidence.  And when consumer confidence rises, spending increases — not only on high-ticket items like homes and cars, but also consumer electronics and other durable goods.   And the bad guys out there know this as all too well.

Last week,  KCBS radio reported on a rash of residential burglaries that have taken place in the Shoreview neighborhood of San Mateo.   In these cases, burglars are posing as people from utility companies or services to look for properties that are not occupied.   What’s most important to take away from this report that this uptick in residential burglaries is not restricted to San Mateo.  The mode of operation may not necessarily be the same, but San Carlos is definitely feeling the effect of increased home break-ins.

It Hits Home.

In the past 3 months, two of my clients have had their San Carlos homes burglarized.  The most recent case occurred on a Saturday evening — my clients had just gone to downtown San Carlos for a couple of hours to have dinner and relax.  When they came back, they discovered with horror that their home had been ransacked and burglarized — in just that short window of time.

In both cases, the homes were completely locked down.  The thieves gained access by prying a locked window open.   Jewelry and small electronics were clearly targeted because they can be quickly converted into cash.    And what was particularly surprising about both of these burglaries is that they occurred on relatively busy streets, which one would assume would be a deterrent to burglars.  But that clearly doesn’t appear to be the case anymore.

Old Rules Aren’t Enough.

The time-worn advice like “lock your doors and windows” or “leave a few lights on” is clearly no longer slowing down these brazen thieves.   The bottom line is that if they want to get into your house badly enough, they will — almost regardless of what you do to protect it.  There were two takeaways that I got from talking with both of my friends after their respective incidences:

  • Get irreplaceable items out of the house.    Some things simply can’t be replaced by a check from the insurance company.  Things that carry huge sentimental value like heirloom jewelry should never be kept in the house, unless you have a safe that is hidden and secured to the structure.   A safe deposit box at a local bank is a very inexpensive and secure solution.
  • Minimize the Impact.  Electronics are high on thieves hit list because of their quick and easy resale.  TV’s and DVR’s can be easily replaced.  But the loss of a computer or smart phones is much more damaging because of the loss of  the data that’s on them — your documents, digital pictures, music, etc..   There are many software programs available now that allow you to back up all of your files securely into the cloud.  It’s not practical to pack up every computer in your house whenever you decide go out, so minimize the impact of them getting stolen in the event that it happens.   Also consider looking into password-protecting all of your devices to reduce the risk of sensitive data being breached.

In the end, it’s really about making your house as unattractive as possible to thieves in the first place.

It’s the World We Live In.

It’s sad to say, but these burglaries will continue to happen — the numbers are clearly in favor of the thieves and NOT the homeowners in San Carlos.  The Sheriff’s Department is doing a fantastic job following up on these crimes, and in some cases catching the perpetrators.  But there is simply not enough law enforcement available to adequately canvas an entire city against this type of random crime, and the thieves know this.

The days of San Carlos being a sleepy bedroom community where you can leave your doors unlocked are gone forever.   It is now replaced by a constant heightened awareness and vigilance not only of your own home, but your surrounding neighborhood.

Sad, but true.

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Currently there are "5 comments" on this Article:

  1. Michael says:

    Chuck, I hope people take heed from your post.

    I know we are all busy, but after 10 years in our neighborhood, it still astounds me how little our neighbors are ever seen. Other than us regular dogwalkers and morning/evening strollers, most people never leave their homes once they get home from work or other activities. We seem to have a false sense of security coupled with a high degree of isolationism that is a perfect storm for opportunistic burglars.

    I have taken it upon myself to raise suspicion to abnormal events or unfamiliar people in the area and take some sort of action whether it be to ask them if they are lost or simply call the sheriff’s dept to report something out of the ordinary.

    More people need to be observant and do something to discourage this activity. Thieves do not like attention and at the very least, we need to make it known that we are watching and can identify these people if they choose to steal from us.
    Plus, something as simple as installing security lights or a camera in a dark area of your property can be enough to make these people move on to an easier mark.

    We need to remind ourselves of your tips and actually do something to prevent these crime. And if it does happen, try to minimize your loss.

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    • Martha says:

      I became nervous when quite a few neighbors on my street were doing extensive remodeling. I got a creepy feeling that the laborers were casing our house. The shifty eyes and peering over the fence and testing the gate were telltale signs. The kicker was when they’d drive by on a weekend. You’re right, they can get into the house if they want. For the meantime, we’ve installed some hidden webcams that record to a dvr around the exterior of the house 24/7. Also, I highly recommend storing backups of important computer files like tax records, pictures, etc.

      Thank you for raising our awareness through your blog

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      • Martha,

        Thanks for your comment — I agree with you 100% about backing up your computers, especially offsite if possible. Using a backup drive locally won’t help you if they steal that too.

        There are also some very good and affordable video kits that are easy to install. One of the victims from this article found one through Amazon for about $500.


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  2. I am new on this forum. And, this is not an advertisement. I have been in the security business for some time, and, we have several associates and licensed firms in the business too. Here is some free advice: Install or have operating outdoor motion lights both in front and in the back of the house; Check all the doors and windows prior to leaving the house; Have neighbors or relatives pick up your mail and newspapers when you are gone for more than a day or two; Have someone come by and check the house, or, even stay at the house when you are gone for any length of time; Hide your jewelery and other valuables when you are gone for days or weeks, or, put the valuables in a safe deposit box.

    Crooks look for easy ways into your house. They tend to go through doors and windows in the back of the house, or, along the sides. The harder you make it, the more likely they will move on. No burglar wants to be in the spot light or seen by others. Alarms, cameras and home access control systems only work if they are installed correctly, and, you are trained in how they work. Many home owners buy the least expensive equipment and then have it fail or not supply information to the police when an event happens.

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  3. Mike G says:

    I moved from the city to San Carlos (white oaks) in March 2012. I thought I was providing a safer environment for my family. You could imagine how shocked I was to hear last month that my direct neighbor, as well as a house a few blocks down, were burglarized. I would have expected San Carlos Police to knock on our door and ask if we heard/saw anything or to at least give us more information about what happened, but they never did. When I heard about the burglary a few weeks later from my neighbor, I called San Carlos PD for more information and was referred to the Police Blotter on their website, which simply contains one sentence stating that a burglary occurred on my block.
    All San Carlans need to keep a skeptical eye out for any suspicious activity in their neighborhoods.

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