TUCSON, AZ (KOLD News 13) - Wednesday March 13th started off like any other for Julie Hartman.
She headed out to her car around 5:15 a.m. ready to leave for work from her home on the east side. But when she reached for her door handle, she realized something was off.
“The door wasn’t latched it was closed and my dome light was off but I then looked in and opened my door and my glove box was opened and there was stuff all over the seat.” said Hartman.
Julie was now the latest victim of a car prowl. She quickly called her boyfriend to check their home surveillance footage to see if they caught the prowler in the act.
And sure enough, at 2:38 a.m. you see a man come from the street and go straight to her car.
Watching it back now, Julie is still in shock. "Oh my god, he even checks my doors to check if anything’s in the pockets. You just feel violated.”
But Julie’s not alone in this. After turning to the Rancho Paraiso HOA Facebook page, she found the neighborhood has been plagued with car prowls and mail theft for months now.
“And that’s when I think my jaw just sort of dropped.”
The posts go back months, even years, detailing different accounts of people having their stuff stolen.
In fact Tucson Police said two years ago they did a survey of all the car break-ins in the area and found that roughly 90% of them were due to unlocked cars.
Thankfully, several residents have security cameras, but Julie said, that’s not enough.
“If it’s been going on this long than nothings deterring them.”
Some residents have found their stolen stuff listen online. Julie said that once the person who list it realizes it's the people they stole from, they go silent.
Police do not recommend meeting up with the thieves like this. Numerous police reports have been filed, but in Julie’s case, no one’s been arrested. Which is why she’s reminding everyone to do what you can to not become a victim.
“Just pay attention. Pay a little bit more attention when you are coming home or leaving. Be aware of your surroundings.”
It may sound simple, but the biggest way to prevent car prowls is to lock your doors.
TPD said most people think car prowlers do smash-and-grab type burglaries but a majority have an easy time finding a door left unlocked. TPD also stress to not leave your guns in your cars.
Install a security camera if you can, report incidents to police, and let neighbors know if you are traveling out of town.
If you recognize the man in the video, please call police.