A community remains on edge as an uptick in burglaries continue targeting an affluent Huntington Beach neighborhood.
Millions of dollars in cash and jewelry have been stolen as thieves specifically target the Huntington Harbour area, with at least 20 reported burglaries this year.
Police now believe that many, if not most of the break–ins, are connected to a well-known South American theft group.
Police say most of the thefts possess similar traits:
- Thieves case homes in rented vehicles to fit into the neighborhood.
- They break in through a second-floor window or door.
- They make sure to enter while the homeowners are away.
- Typically strike between Wednesdays through Sundays from 7 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Cari Casteneda, a homeowner and recent victim, recalled the horror she felt when witnessing the burglary on her Ring security doorbell.
Her family was away for the weekend when she received a notification on her phone, catching the thieves in action.
“Three guys are leaving our house right now!” Casteneda recalled in disbelief. “They actually had burglarized our home.”
As her home alarm was blaring, the three men are seen in the video escaping through the front gate, leaving with over $250,000 worth of cash and jewelry. They even ripped safe boxes straight from the walls.
Lisa Rudy, another victim, came home to find her second-floor balcony door completely shattered one day. She only left for a few hours when the thieves struck, successfully stealing cash, a safe box, and jewelry.
“Knowing somebody who you don’t know was in there and had ill intent to be there is a horrible, horrible feeling,” Rudy said.
Huntington Beach police tell KTLA they’re concerned over the recent uptick in home break-ins, with the reported numbers now matching with pre-pandemic levels.
“You think of burglaries maybe happening at 2 or 3 in the morning, but that’s not what’s happening here,” Rudy said. “They’re coming when we are gone, maybe for an hour to dinner, or an hour and a half. That’s when they’re coming in.”
Huntington Beach police have placed signs in the area notifying thieves that the community is under video surveillance.
Authorities are have also increased patrol in the area, using both marked and unmarked vehicles. They’re considering temporary road closures to limit the number of cars that can drive along neighborhood streets.
Tips for homeowners to prevent being targeted include:
- Lock all windows, doors and gates when leaving home
- Turn on all exterior and porch lights
- Don’t post on social media that you are not home
- Consider installing an alarm system with audible warnings
- Consider storing valuables in safe deposit boxes or other secure locations besides your home
Most importantly, police say if you spot a suspicious vehicle or person, it’s best to immediately report it.