Orinda Residents Plagued by Burglaries

Claire Marvin, Columns and Reviews Editor

Within the past couple of months the sleepy little town of Orinda has been rudely awakened by a widespread crime spree. Cars are disappearing, locks are breaking, valuables are vaporizing, and residents are worrying.

“The residential burglaries began increasing at the end of 2012 and remained high through 2013,” Orinda Chief of Police Scott Haggard said. Detectives have recovered some stolen property in Brentwood and have made a couple of theft related arrests in Antioch and Oakland.

Since the criminals do not live in Orinda, detectives in the Orinda Police Department, along with other officers in departments all across Contra Costa County and Oakland, have been running various surveillance operations. “The travel time involved and the transitory nature of these types of criminals means that it takes a lot of time to track people down,” Haggard said.
While these crimes have occurred throughout the city, Haggard says that most occur near the freeway where burglars have easier access to an escape. Burglaries were up 37.5 percent in 2013, however, auto thefts and auto burglaries have remained fairly consistent. As for arrests, the police department currently has two arrest warrants out on identified burglars who have not been located. Haggard said that his team also reached out to neighborhoods to encourage residents to lock their doors and windows, use the police department’s home audit program to identify security issues, and to call in any suspicious activity.

These recent crimes have hit close to home for many Miramonte students. “One of our cars got broken into overnight about a month ago and they pretty much only stole a few phone chargers,” junior Mark Laughton said. While his family came out of the burglary relatively unscathed, Laughton remains frustrated with the current situation. “I think that the burglaries in Orinda are definitely a problem and the police should spend a lot of time trying to figure out ways to stop them,” Laughton said.

The family of freshman Riley Eversole, who lives just a few houses up from the Laughton-Maupins, was not as lucky as her neighbors. “The week before Christmas someone broke into our unlocked car and stole random stuff like money and Christmas gift cards,” Eversole said. “The car they broke into also had a set of spare keys to our Jeep inside of it. A few nights later they came and stole our Jeep. We got a call from the Richmond Police on Christmas morning saying that they found our Jeep in Richmond with weird stuff in it. It was really nice to hear that someone knew where it was on Christmas!”
Eversole was able to laugh off the experience: “It was funny imagining some sketch guys driving our white Jeep with a Life is Good cover and an OCC sticker on it around Richmond,” Eversole said. She was also very grateful to both the Orinda and Richmond Police Departments for helping to recover her family’s stolen car.

While some Orinda neighborhood residents  have discussed putting in security cameras to prevent crime, nothing has been confirmed. So what can concerned citizens do to protect both their belongings and their family’s well beings? “Set your alarms, lock your doors, remove valuables from being visible inside your vehicles and lock them,” Haggard said. “Please call on suspicious activity in your neighborhood.”