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Thieves targeting drivers at gas stations, East Bay police agency warns

By Philippe Djegal,


HERCULES, Calif. ( KRON ) — At least three times in the past five months, police say victims have had items stolen from their cars while pumping gas at a Safeway gas station on Sycamore Avenue in Hercules.

“One of them was an actual armed robbery where a cellphone was taken,” said Hercules Police Department reserve detective Connie Van Putten.

The police department is sharing examples of these crimes captured on surveillance cameras at gas stations in other communities. Van Putten said the second case turned into a robbery when a woman struggled with a suspect who stole her purse from the passenger seat of her unlocked car.

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The third incident resulted in the suspect reaching into and stealing items from the unsuspecting victim’s car.

“I wouldn’t even think to look on that side because I would think it’d be safe just because I’m standing here, but now I’m going to be definitely looking out,” said a resident who gave his name as Jereme.

Police say lock your doors and never leave your keys in the ignition while paying at the pump.

“If you are a woman or a person who has a briefcase or a purse or any kind of a bag laying on the seat — put it out of sight,” said Van Putten.

Van Putten says all three incidents happened in the daylight with several customers nearby.

“Now, when you look around and see what’s going on in the Bay Area, you know, it’s really not a surprise,” said resident Jesus Mendez.

“Keep some pepper spray on you. If you got a dog, ride with it. Keep that thing in the backseat,” said resident Kanwarpaul Singh.

Hercules PD said arrests had been made in two of the three investigations.

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