STOCKTON, Calif. (KTXL) -- A bold burglar has been taking advantage of people as they visit a Stockton cemetery.
Officials at the San Joaquin County Catholic Cemetery said they have seen an increase in the number of car break-ins over the last several weeks.
Gene Gascon was at the cemetery Wednesday to visit his father who passed away in 1997. He told FOX40 he was saddened to hear about the recent spike in crime at the cemetery.
“It just goes against how I was raised to respect the living and the dead,” he said. “This just isn’t a place you should come to commit crimes.”
Cemetery Director Albert Vigil said recently a burglar has been breaking into visitors’ vehicles.
“He’s been coming through the cemetery, some on funerals, some when people are just visiting, and breaking into their cars and stealing purses and whatever valuables he sees through the window,” Vigil explained.
Cemetery staff believes the same man is responsible for as many as eight car break-ins in the last month.
“They’re coming here to bury their loved one and they should not have to worry about those kinds of things,” Vigil said. “In fact, that’s the furthest thing from their mind at the time. But again, it’s an unfortunate situation.”
“It’s kind of sad, you know. You think when you visit your loved ones at the cemetery you wouldn't have to worry about things like that happening,” Gascon said.
Vigil told FOX40 the cemetery has surveillance cameras and security on weekends to help deter crime. But he also said people need to remember to keep their windows up, their doors locked and hide any valuables left inside.
“It’s so easy. They come through with say like a spark plug and pop that window and it just shatters. And it’s a quick grab and they go,” Vigil said.
Gascon said it's unfortunate that people can't even let their guard down to mourn a loved at a cemetery without being taking advantage of.
“You just have to be aware of your surroundings because it can happen anytime and anyplace,” he said.
Stockton police said they are aware of the break-ins.