Last Wednesday Cotati Police sent out a message on Nixle warning residents of a string of car break-ins to hit the east side of Cotati near Liman Way and Ladybug Park where thieves are targeting vehicles that may contain construction and other expensive tools.
The police department notified residents May 23 to make sure vehicles are locked and secured following the break-in spree, which authorities say occurred in the middle of the night either Monday or Tuesday morning.
“It was a total of three (cars broken into). They were concentrated in the L section of Rohnert Park and they were kind of spread out,” says Cotati Chief of Police, Michael Parish.
Parish says recently criminals have been focusing on professional vehicles.
“There is a trend that criminals are focusing on tools,” Parish explained.
Nevertheless, Parish says it is important for people to properly secure their cars, whether it is a personal or commercial vehicle. He also says it is key for residents to make sure nothing of value is visible in the car, as thieves can target any car if they see any item that may be valuable.
“If anyone sees anything in the area that is suspicious please call us,” Parish encouraged.
He also mentioned that Cotati typically doesn’t see too many car break-ins or smash and grabs and night shift patrol officers haven’t seen any break-in activity since last week’s incident.
According to city-data.com, a site that tracks city crime data, burglaries in general have drastically declined since 2002, which saw 56 burglaries for Cotati.
In 2016 there were 26 and there was a whopping 72 in 2003 according to the data.
According to the 2017 Sonoma State University Clery Report on crime, there were four burglaries on campus and none reported off campus, although it is unclear whether or not these break-ins were resident or car break-ins.
Rohnert Park however, has seen more burglaries than Cotati, with a total of 110 for 2017, according to the departments’ crime statistics. Last May the city saw in uptick in smash and grabs and since then, the public safety department has implemented a community awareness program to try and teach residents the importance of securing your vehicle.
The program, “If I were a thief you would be a victim,” has Rohnert Park Public Safety officers patrolling residential areas and shopping center parking lots to see if people have taken the proper precautions in securing their car.
If an officer sees a visible item of value in the car, such as a laptop case or gym bag, or if their car isn’t locked, they will place a “you would be a victim” card on their windshield, indicating the person needs to do a better job in securing their car. If a resident has nothing visible in their car and has it locked and secured, then they will get a “good job” card placed on their windshield.
As for the Cotati break-ins, Parish said there are no suspects or leads in the case at this time.