Auto break-ins and frauds are up, with nine reported vehicle burglaries and seven cases of fraud reported in recent days.
A number of the auto burglaries occurred at Stoneridge Shopping Center. On Dec. 9, a $600 laptop, a $200 laptop and other items were stolen from a vehicle parked outside P.F. Chang's in the 1300 block of Stoneridge Mall Road between 5:15 p.m. and 8:25 p.m. A window was broken in that incident.
The same day, a window was smashed on a vehicle parked outside The Cheesecake Factory, also in the 1300 block of Stoneridge Mall Road. A $200 rolling bag was stolen between 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.
On Dec. 6, sunglasses valued at $200, a $180 iPad and a $75 watch were taken from a vehicle parked outside J.C. Penney in the 1500 block of Stoneridge Mall Road between 11:40 a.m. and 12:15 p.m., and on Dec. 5, an iPhone was stolen from the 1000 block of Stoneridge Mall Road. A window was broken in that incident, which occurred between 11 a.m. and 1:59 p.m.
Five other auto burglaries were reported in different areas of the city.
Police advise that people make sure to move items into the trunk or rear area of the vehicle, preferably before making a shopping trip or when arriving home.
"Also, when you're leaving the store, if you've got bags and you want to go back in the store, repark your vehicle," advises Pleasanton Crime Prevention Officer Shannon Revel-Whitaker. "A criminal loitering in the parking lot is looking for someone loading up their car and going to go back inside to continue shopping. Someone watching will know."
Revel-Whitaker said if possible, it's best to make a trip home to unload a vehicle before continuing to shop.
"We live in a very safe community so sometimes we get complacent," she said.
A resident of the 7600 block of Maywood Drive could have been out $3,000 when her bank card was used to make 12 charges. The bank flagged the transactions and closed the account before they could be processed. The report was made at 1:52 p.m. Dec. 6.
Another victim lost $240. The resident, of the 2600 block of Minton Court, told police on Dec. 4 that she came home to find two unordered camping chairs had been delivered to her home and the transaction on her account.
The same day, a resident of the 4700 block of Woodthrush Court reported someone had obtained a debit card in the name of her business and used it to charge $270.
On Dec. 5, a resident of the 2300 block of Santa Rita Road told police that someone used her debit card to make six charges, for $54, $230, $35 and $5.34, $40 and $9.44.
Revel-Whitaker said people who commit frauds use a number of techniques to separate victims from their money. She said there are some simple steps that can help people from becoming victims.
"When you're out shopping, only take what you need. Don't take five credit cards," she said.
She said women should keep a close watch on purses and men should shift wallets to their front pockets.
When shopping online, she said, "look for well-known stores," and make sure there's a secure web address, using "https" instead of the traditional "http" web prefix.
"Some people, they only use one card for online purposes. That way they can track it back it's easier to check," she said. "Make sure everything totals out, especially when you have more than one person using a card. Make sure every charge is valid."
For those who find a suspicious or fraudulent charge, she said, "shut down your card right away. Flag your credit."