Santa Cruz police offer neighborhood crime prevention tips

Santa Cruz community meeting tackles...

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - “Are you kidding? When I first moved in, (we) never locked the house,” said Santa Cruz resident J.D. Sotelo.

That was back in the 1980’s, and Sotelo didn’t have to lock his car either.

“You know what? Back then, it’s get out of the car, unload the groceries start cooking dinner,” Sotelo said.

Not, it’s get out of the car and lock it before you can do anything else. Sotelo said there are a lot more issues he’s concerned about.

“Some people in this city worry about if they can find a parking spot in front of their store. In our neighborhood. We worry about the homicides, the drug dealing, the prostitution,” Sotelo said.

Santa Cruz police said they are actively working to combat those crimes.

“Generally, residential burglaries, auto burglaries, auto theft, and in Santa Cruz, bike theft,” officer Warren Barry said.

But it’s also important that residents help each other.

“The police cannot be everywhere, and they cannot be sitting on your block, and you cannot have security guards, you, the neighbors are the people that are everywhere,” said Deborah Easton, president of Santa Cruz Neighbors, a nonprofit community group.

And Sotelo said getting to know his neighbors have helped him learn how to protect his family and property.

“You want to talk to people, because if you don’t, you just know what you know and that’s not enough,” Sotelo said.

Santa Cruz police said they saw a 30 percent increase in auto theft in 2016, which is a significant spike, and drivers should make sure to either take valuables with them or lock things in the trunk.

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