Calexico, Calif. – The owner of a 2006 van walked into a fast-food restaurant on North Imperial in Calexico.
When she came out – her van was gone.
Calexico police detective Alberto Llanas says the owner called them and the Mexican customs agents to report her vehicle stolen.
“At that time they did have her vehicle detained at the Mexican Customs with the driver,” said Llanas.
The driver of the allegedly stolen vehicle was identified as 32-year old Calexico resident Monica Macias. Macias and the vehicle were turned over to Calexico police.
But authorities warn there’s been a string of car thefts in the area. Just this past thirty days, 17 cars have been stolen.
“We’ve seen a rash of car thefts in the city of Calexico,” Llanas said.
Calexico detective Armando Orozco urges the public to exercise caution and common sense.
“Keep your vehicle locked. Install audible alarm or anti-theft device. Try to keep valuable property inside the vehicle have it not visible from the outside,” Orozco said.
Don’t leave any valuables in plain sight, Orozco adds. “They’ll smash the window to get to your personal property.”
Authorities say take pictures of your car and license plate on your cell phones.
“It makes the recovery faster,” Llanas explains.
And especially be very careful with keys and children.
“I strongly recommend not to leave your keys in the vehicle especially if you have small children because it can be a matter of seconds for someone to just jump in your vehicle and take off in it and they themselves not knowing there’s a child in the back,” Llanas said.
Some car thefts are just a matter of opportunity.
“Somebody is just gassing up at the pumps and with the door open and they’re on the other side pumping gas and somebody just jumps in the driver’s side and takes off with the vehicle,” Llanas explained.
Authorities say about 15% of stolen cars may never be recovered.