INDIO, Calif. - A brazen thief and the thief's accomplice were caught on surveillance camera breaking into cars in a North Indio gated community. The neighborhood of Mountain Estates was only one of several that were hit by a team of burglars over the weekend, and police confirmed there has been a recent uptick in crimes in the area.
"The car break-ins are getting a little repetitive in the neighborhood," said resident Rebecca Bover.
Security cameras outside Bover's home captured the suspect as he walked up to her husband's vehicle, which was parked in their driveway, and looked in the windows with a flashlight. After he sees nothing seemingly worthwhile inside, the man can then be seen crossing the street to a neighbor's home as a dark sedan slowly follows behind him.
David Fese, who lives right across the street from Bover, awoke the next day to find two of his car windows smashed in.
"I think what happened is that they tried to go through the rear of the window and caused damage to that and so they went to the side window," he told KESQ News Channel 3's and CBS Local 2's Katie Widner. "Of course, they picked the most expensive glass on the car. There's an antenna that went through that side."
The culprit made off with hundreds of dollars' worth of tools and equipment. Fese said that, once the windows are replaced, the crime will have cost him thousands of dollars.
Bover said she posted the video in a neighborhood application and received a large response from others who live in the area.
"I have it side by side with another gentleman in a different neighborhood who appears to have captured the same individual," she said.
"It's really disappointing. You know. It sounds like these individuals, if they put these kind of organizational skills and efforts into a legitimate job, would probably be decent members of society," said Frese.
Sgt. Dan Marshall, of the Indio Police Department, said the department is aware of the increase in car break-ins recently and has been doing its best to stay on top of the situation. In fact, Bover's surveillance video showed a police vehicle with its spotlight activated, arriving just moments after the hit.
Ultimately, Marshall said, it is the actions of drivers that can best help to prevent the crimes.
"Lock it or lose it," he said. "That's what we're telling people. Do not leave your valuables in the car."
He said most thefts out of vehicles happen when a car is unlocked.
Marshall stressed that people should not leave even iPhone chargers or GPS units inside vehicles in plain view and that owners should put an identifying mark on valuables so that, if they are stolen, they can be claimed more easily.