Exclusive: Santa Maria Police officers tackle uptick in burglaries

Santa Maria police officers tackle...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Thursday was a busy morning for officers in Santa Maria. 

“Recently there has been an increase in some of our petty theft and burglaries,” said Sgt. Elijio Lara of the Santa Maria Police Department. 

Police officers targeted five sites throughout the city where there have been reports of burglaries, thefts and other safety concerns. 

They say these crimes have risen by 26 percent from July to August of this year.

Police spent several hours in areas where they've been getting reports of crimes.

It's unclear why there's been an uptick, but police say the trend started when the recycling centers at Vons and Albertsons closed.

“Recycling centers are used by people, not just transients. Everybody comes through the recycling center. So there are people that don't have those funds that they had before,” Lara said. 

Orchard Street was one of the areas that police visited due to several complaints including quality of life concerns.

“We received a complaint of a resident in Orchard of someone storing personal property on a public sidewalk. Instead of writing a citation, we educated them about the law and gave them a verbal warning,” said Officer Ricky Arias with the Santa Maria Police Department. 

Lara said it's important for them to respond to all calls, not just serious crimes.

“Sometimes people don't understand that by dealing with the smaller issues it takes care of the bigger issues,” Lara said.

As officers keep responding to crime reports, they are reminding people to hide personal items in cars, and to consider installing security cameras around homes.

Even though burglaries have been up the past couple months, police said crimes have been down by 26 percent compared to last year. 

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