Residents in a north Scottsdale neighborhood know it will happen again. In the past year, thieves have broken into vehicles five times in the neighborhood near Scottsdale and Jomax roads using a method police said they haven’t seen before.
Some neighbors are questioning why the police haven’t stepped up patrols in the area.
But more patrols don’t necessarily mean the thieves will be caught in the act, said Jason Glenn, crime prevention officer for the department’s north Scottsdale district.
In all likelihood, the thieves would see the patrol car coming and have plenty of time to fade into the background.
"Bad guys can see our cars coming and they have the advantage," Glenn said. "They might be hiding and we’ll drive by and keep going."
The thieves are sneaking into Scottsdale neighborhoods in the early morning hours and using a sophisticated method to break into trucks and sport utility vehicles to steal valuables left inside.
First, they release the vehicle’s hood latch and cut the battery cable to disable the alarm.
Then the thieves break in through the driver’s door.
To catch the culprits, "you’ve got to be in the right place at the right time," said Sgt. Tom Macari of the auto crimes unit.
More than 60 such crimes have occurred in the city since January 2005, Macari said. Eight percent of the thefts — totaling more than $10,000 in stolen property — have happened in the Jomax/Monterra community in north Scottsdale.
"I’m really troubled about this," said Charles Crehore, president of the Jomax/ Monterra Homeowners Association.
The neighborhood isn’t doing its part to avoid more break-ins, he said.
Crehore said he’s tried to put together a Block Watch program and has organized a presentation on the program by Scottsdale police. But it didn’t work out as planned, he said.
"Frankly, we just couldn’t get a lot of people interested in it," he said. "Nobody responded."
Crehore’s son, 32-year-old Jeremy Pellar, has been a victim of the crime twice. Pellar lives with his father in the neighborhood.
Thieves first broke into Pellar’s 2003 blue Dodge Ram on Jan. 25 and stole nearly $2,000 worth of stereo and computer equipment. The truck was parked in the driveway because there was no room in the garage, Pellar said.
Pellar replaced the equipment, but thieves broke into the truck again on July 21 and stole everything.
That night, the thieves broke into another car around the block and stole more than $6,600 in an iPod, a Palm pilot, a Krugerrand gold coin worth $2,500 and fishing equipment.
Crehore and Pellar said they hoped for more police action.
"Everyone feels they could be doing more," Crehore said.
"I don’t think it’s been great at all," Pellar said of the police response. "But I understand why. They’re busy and they’ve got a lot to deal with . . . I’m not talking about someone getting killed; I’m talking about a car stereo."
A month after Pellar’s truck was broken into, thieves struck two more vehicles in the neighborhood on the same night.
"I went out in the morning to pick up the paper, and the doors were pried open and the hood was popped up," said resident John Whaley.
The thieves had broken into his daughter’s vehicle and had stolen more than $800 in DVD equipment and done more than $1,200 in damage.
Whaley’s neighbor, 53-yearold Mark Edelman, said his vehicle was broken into the same night, although the culprits took only trivial items.
He said he’s sure more thefts of the same nature will occur.
"Yep, without a doubt," he said. "And I don’t think there’s anything you can do about it."
Police officials have not increased patrols in the neighborhood for various reasons, Glenn said.
First, five similar thefts since January isn’t a staggering number, and there are only about seven patrols in the district between 2:30 and 5 a.m., he said. The district covers two-thirds of Scottsdale and encompasses the area from Cactus Road to Carefree Highway.
For patrols in the area to increase, the department’s crime prevention unit would have to find that a particular crime has increased in an area by a significant amount, and also provide more specific information about when the crimes occur so patrols can focus their efforts, Glenn said.
"We’re not just going to go out and spin our wheels and drive cars around the cul-desac," he said.
Detectives are following leads in the case, but Macari said he could not be more specific.
"My officers are trying diligently to figure out who has been doing this," he said. "It is a priority because we have so many of them."
• Park in the garage
• Install a backup for the battery
• Get a hood lock
• Make sure the hood is triggered to sound the alarm if opened
• Install lighting in front of the house