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Smash and grab burglaries spook train riders

Sheriff’s deputies search for leads in metro parking lot break-ins

Posted: January 22, 2009 8:51 p.m.
Updated: January 23, 2009 4:30 a.m.

Numerous vehicles were broken into Wednesday evening at the Soledad Canyon Metrolink Station parking lot.

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Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's deputies are looking for burglars who are stealing stereos by breaking through windows of cars at two local Metrolink Station parking lots.

Anita Calkins will not park at the Santa Clarita Metrolink Station anymore because burglars broke into several cars Wednesday, she said.

"I'm really afraid to park there. The security is up at the top and the parking lot is on the bottom," said Calkins, of Castaic, Thursday. "They need to trim those trees down to at least three feet so (guards) can see (people) breaking into cars."

She now parks at the Newhall station.

The burglaries occurred in the past few weeks, but the Sheriff's Detective Bureau has no suspects, said Lt. Steve Low.

"At different Metrolink stations on Jan. 8, two crimes occurred at the Via Princessa and three at the Soledad (Canyon Road) and Commuter Way location," said Lt. Brenda Cambra of the Sheriff's Station. "Windows were smashed and it appears mostly stereos were taken but also some items left in the car."

Cambra confirmed there were six burglaries reported Wednesday night.

"All appeared to be window smashes," she said. "Car stereos were taken and other assorted items."

Paul Labarbera of Saugus no longer takes the train. He drives to work in Glendale because the lot burglars stole more than $1,000 worth of property from his vehicle parked at the Santa Clarita Metrolink Station lot two weeks ago.

"I came off from the train and somebody had tossed a rock through the passenger-side window. They stole my stereo, GPS, all the CDs and whatever else they rummaged through and got," Labarbera said.

"You know, unfortunately, the way (the lot has) been designed, the security sits on the platform and it's up really high. There's no way you could see the parking lot. It's just huge."

Mike Fichman, president of Golden West K-9, said his security officers occasionally patrol the parking lot to look for criminal activity. When they suspect something, they call for backup, he said.

"Our officer was on the platform when he heard a car alarm ringing and went down to investigate and noticed there were others and called the Sheriff's (Station)," Fichman said.

"Whoever the perpetrators were, they had already left. Somebody made a hit. They probably observed the officer was up on the platform. It only takes a few seconds to do some smash and grabs ... "

On Thursday, a security officer on duty, who declined to give his name, said he tries to patrol the lot three times an hour. He was not the officer on duty during the Wednesday night incident.

"While I'm here, I do what I have to do," he said. "I'm responsible and I do what I can."

Because the trees sometimes block his sight from the guard station, he goes on the hill to scan the lot, he said. He said he's never experienced any major problem in the lot.

"Our field supervisors are meeting with each of our guards and doing the proper pass along," Fichman said.

Cambra said deputies can lift fingerprints if victims make their car available.

Anyone with tips or information should contact Sgt. James Anderson at the Sheriff's Station, she said. The phone number is (661) 255-1121.

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