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Car thefts increase drastically across the Central Coast , CHP says

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Posted at 5:03 PM, Sep 17, 2021

Vehicle theft is on the rise across the Central Coast, according to the California Highway Patrol.

One Santa Maria woman says her son’s truck was stolen just a few weeks ago.

"My son called us and said he got up that morning and his truck was gone and, ugh, he was devastated,” said Joan Snowdy.

Snowdy says the truck was stolen from her son's driveway early in the morning on September 4, prompting them to file a report.

According to the California Highway Patrol, they've been getting a lot of vehicle theft reports recently, more so than in past years.

"You can only imagine how all these people must be feeling with their vehicles being stolen. It's an awful feeling and the problem is just getting worse,” Snowdy said.

Luckily, on September 15, Snowdy received a phone call that the truck was found in San Luis Obispo.

Arrests were made but the thieves did leave some damage behind including a broken gas cap cover, shattered headlight, broken driver side view mirror, and much more.

According to the California Highway Patrol, in 2019, Santa Barbara County had a total of 1,235 vehicle thefts and in 2020, it jumped up to nearly 1,900.

Officials say the number for 2021 is expected to surpass both years.

In a statement, CHP officials told KSBY, in part, "We definitely have our hands full with the stolen vehicle situation right now. One of the biggest things that we still see to this day is people leave their cars running or leaving the keys in the car somewhere. We highly discourage that."

They add there are a few things people can do to try to prevent thieves from breaking in and taking your vehicle such as getting an alarm system, steering wheel locks, never leaving devices or any belongings in the vehicle, not leaving the car running, and parking in well-lit areas.

"We've got to figure out some kind of solution because it's just nuts. It's out of control,” Snowdy said.

According to the CHP, San Luis Obispo County has an auto theft task force in partnership with the San Luis Obispo County Sheriff's Office but as of right now, Santa Barabra County does not.