Tuesday, July 10, 2012
By Michelaina Johnson
The number of vehicle burglaries at trailheads in Ojai has more than doubled in the past two weeks in comparison to the previous month.
In the past two weeks, two cars and one motorcycle have been stolen from trailheads. One had been recovered as of Monday.
Nathalie Selleslags, who hikes regularly in Ojai, recently encountered the results of a burglary at the Matilija Hot Springs trailhead. “My friends and I went to the hot springs and when we were got back to the car a couple’s car had been broken into and the front window had been shattered. Apparently, an iPod had been stolen. I went immediately to check my car and make sure my purse had not been stolen. It shocked me. I always trust people in Ojai. It was a warning signal to me.”
The number of vehicle burglaries “had gone up, then went down to practically zero, but now we are seeing a spattering here and there, a few a month,” said Captain Dave Kenney, Ojai chief of police. “The other cities (in Ventura County) are having the same problem.”
Thieves usually break a window to get in to vehicles, quickly snatch any appealing items and flee the crime scene, explained Ventura County Sheriff’s detective Mike Harris.
The most stolen items include cellphones, global-positioning systems (GPS), purses, wallets and “anything of value…even clothing items.”
Kenney suggests hikers lock their car and leave valuables at home. If they need to bring valuables, he said they should be left in the trunk. Hikers can also write down or use their cellphone camera to photograph the cars and license plate numbers of the cars around them, added Harris, “it gives us something to go off,” if a car is burglarized or stolen.
The more unsafe trailheads are the ones that are farther away from the city, including Matilija Hot Springs and the trails in Rose Valley, according to Kenney.
For more information or to report a theft, call the Ojai Police Department at 646-1414.