Jan 27, 2010 9:35 PM by Danielle Lerner
Investigators in Lompoc are looking into a recent spike in burglaries at coin-operated laundry facilities.
Officers say they have seen at least 20 burglaries in the last two weeks, mostly at apartment complexes.
The suspect, or suspects, are breaking into the laundry rooms and stealing coins from inside the machines.
To see just how easy it is to access apartment complex laundry rooms, KSBY News Reporter Danielle Lerner tried more than a dozen doors along one alleyway in Lompoc.
A few were sealed tight but more than half were wide open, an easy target for criminals searching for coins.
"A lot of times it;s crimes of opportunity," said Sgt. Danny Rios with the Lompoc Police Department. "They're prying open, breaking open the machines, the washers and dryers and then stealing the coins."
One person living near the laundry rooms worries burglary could lead to something more serious.
"Makes me real nervous you know, people can hide in there," said Kulekia Bradley. "That's why I just, I keep my little ones away from there."
Officers say locking laundry room doors is one of many things residents and property managers can do to protect themselves, and their facilities.
Things like regulating access, installing brighter lights and watching for suspicious activity can all deter would-be burglars.
"That actually helps minimize these types of crimes because crooks aren't able to just walk in freely to these facilities," Rios said.
It is a community effort to combat a growing problem.
Officers received a report of a similar burglary at Vandenberg Village Wednesday morning.
They are not sure if it is related to the incidents in Lompoc, but they are working to get the word out just in case.
Investigators are hoping the public can also help in their search for suspects. Residents who report any suspicious activity can remain anonymous.
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