COVID-19 Pandemic Caused A Car Theft Epidemic In Oxnard

Friday May 22, 2020

 

(Photos and story from Oxnard PD)

"Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent stay at home order issued on March 19, 2020, the City of Oxnard has seen a significant increase in auto theft-related crimes. From January 18, 2020, to March 19, 2020 (pre-COVID-19), there were 80 reported stolen vehicles in the City of Oxnard. From March 20, 2020, to May 20, 2020 (COVID-19 stay at home period), there were 193 reported stolen vehicles in the City of Oxnard, a 141% increase. In addition, on April 6, 2020, the California Judicial Council approved the “zero bail” rule for most misdemeanors and some low-level felony crimes. This has had a direct impact on the increase in stolen vehicles.

 

More than half of the reported auto thefts occurred in the south end of the city.  Hondas, 1990-1999, are still the preferred vehicle of car thieves. Oxnard Police Department Property Crimes Detectives, members of the Ventura County Auto Theft Task Force (VenCATT), and Oxnard Police Department Patrol Officers have been working to recover these vehicles, and to take into custody those responsible.

 

On May 21, 2020, Oxnard Resident Marco Meza was contacted by Oxnard Police Department Property Crimes detectives and detectives from the Ventura County Auto Theft Task Force (VenCATT), driving a stolen vehicle in the 3200 block of Saviers Road. During the contact, Meza resisted arrest while trying to discard narcotics and was found in possession of “shaved keys” commonly used during vehicle thefts. Meza has two prior arrests for vehicle theft and numerous prior arrests for narcotics-related offenses. Meza had been arrested on May 17, 2020, while driving a stolen vehicle and was released later that same day per the zero bail rule. 

 

On May 14, 2020, Oxnard Resident Alejandro Garcia was contacted by Oxnard Police Department patrol officers, driving a stolen vehicle in the 900 block of Richmond Ave. Garcia has four prior arrests for vehicle theft in addition to narcotic related offenses.

 

On May 18, 2020, Oxnard Resident Jonathan Martinez, who is a Post Release Offender (PRO) in the County of Ventura, was contacted by Oxnard Police Department patrol officers driving a stolen vehicle in the 2400 block of Saviers Road. Martinez has eight prior arrests for vehicle theft in addition to numerous property crime-related offenses. In 2018, Martinez was sentenced to the California Department of Corrections for two counts of vehicle theft, possession of stolen property, identity theft, and felony evading. Since his release from the California Department of Corrections in 2019, Martinez has been arrested four times for parole violations and for the May 18, 2020 vehicle theft.

 

In order to combat the increase of auto thefts, Property Crimes Detectives from Oxnard Police Department responded to various retail locations in the area of Saviers Road and Channel Islands Boulevard in order to provide crime prevention information. This is part of an ongoing effort by the Oxnard Police Department to better inform the public and provide insight on how to avoid becoming a victim.

 

The Oxnard Police Department wants to encourage members of the public to use auto theft prevention devices such as steering wheel locks and vehicle alarms, and to never store vehicle keys inside of their vehicle. Remember to “Lock it, Take it, Keep it,” lock your vehicles and take items of value out of your vehicles.

 

The Oxnard Police Department Property Crimes Unit is committed to reducing auto theft in the City of Oxnard.  Anyone with information regarding any of these cases or other criminal activity is encouraged to contact the Oxnard Police Department at (805) 385-7600, or online via the Oxnard Police Department’s website:  www.oxnardpd.org, and clicking on “Report Suspicious Activity.”   You can remain anonymous if you choose to do so by calling the Ventura County Crime Stoppers at (800)222-8477.  You can also visit their website: www.venturacountycrimestoppers.org to submit a tip via text or email."