NIPOMO, Calif. - A recent rash of break-ins and burglaries in Nipomo has residents concerned. The San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Department states there have been eight reported break-ins within just the past three days. The number may actually be higher, but according to authorities, many thefts go unreported.
While most of them have involved cars, for the Litten family, they had their house burglarized.
"It's just an awful feeling," said Elsa Litten. "My daughter came in, literally walked into the house crying. She just said mom it feels so awful knowing that a stranger has been in our house."
Litten says the thieves stole an estimated $5,000 worth of items, including valuable electronics and sports memorabilia.
"We work so hard to have these possessions," said Litten. "We all work and try to make an honest living and not for some scumbag to think he could just break into our home and take whatever he wants."
Whoever broke into the house did so by kicking in the front door sometime during the late morning or early afternoon.
"They could have been looking at our routine, seeing what time we leave," said Litten. "That's one thing the Sheriff's did tell us, they probably have been looking and seeing what our routine is, and it probably happened within the half hour after we left."
Across town, the Schultz family was also victimized by thieves earlier the same day. During the middle of the night, the family had each of their four cars broken into.
"They took checkbooks, bills, Fitbits," said Kyna Schultz. "They took my husband's spare key to his truck."
The family's loss totaled several hundred dollars, not to mention the psychological damage.
"It's definitely a feeling of violation" said Schultz. "You don't want to even drive your car. You don't want to touch your steering wheel, where someone has been in your space taking your stuff."
The Sheriff's Department notes most of the thefts have been from unlocked cars, but have also included a couple of "smash and grab" thefts as well, where the window was broken.
The most common items stolen includes wallets, purses and electronics.
"It makes me feel horrible," said Schultz. "We feel safe here, or we felt safe here in this community. Hearing about all these robberies and break-ins and people's homes being broken into, it's definitely a bummer."
Both Schultz and Litten say they've come forward with the hope their experiences can make a positive impact to others in the community by bringing awareness to what's happening and to inspire residents to become vigilant.
"Be aware of our surroundings because people think it won't happen to them, but it can happen to anybody, we learned that lesson," said Litten. "Unfortunately, that's the world we live in. You have to think of your security because there's people out there that are waiting for that chance just to take what belongs to you. They don't care, they didn't work hard for it. We did."
Schultz and Litten each say they will add security systems in the near future with the hope it can deter crime at their residence.
"It's sad that we have to get camera systems to watch and use our security systems, but it seems like that is what even Nipomo is coming to, so lock your cars, lock your houses and protect your valuables," said Schultz.
To also help with prevention, the Sheriff's Department reminds residents to always lock their cars, refrain from leaving valuables in plain sight, or simply remove them all together, plus report any suspicious activity immediately.