SHERMAN OAKS (CBSLA.com) — A man has been left heartbroken after he says his laptop with thousands of pictures on it was stolen from his car in Sherman Oaks.
It happened near the intersection of Ventura and Van Nuys boulevards around 6 a.m. Sunday at an apartment complex.
"It's devastating," said James Campbell, who explained that he has not been able to sleep after nearly a decade-worth of memories were stolen. "Literally those photos mean everything to me."
Campbell said security footage captured images of the man he believes broke into his car. It's unclear how the suspect got onto the property, but footage showed him entering the garage through an elevator.
Campbell says the laptop was snatched from his car through a shattered sunroof. He says he had just taken the laptop to get repaired and forgot it was in the backseat.
"I never leave anything in my car. This was the one time," he said.
Police say there has been a spike in car burglaries across the San Fernando Valley, including one several weeks ago in North Hollywood.
Investigators say the same person could be responsible.
As compared to this time last year, police say the Van Nuys Division has seen a 10.4 percent increase in vehicle break-ins.
Many are happening in underground parking structures where people feel safe leaving belongings in their car.
"Just the opportunity of seeing property in there gets the interest of a thief," Lt. Jim Gavin of the LAPD said.
Campbell says he never backed up anything on his hard drive, including countless images of his parents before they died and his young son.
"His birth pictures are on there. His first Christmas. His first steps," he said.
Campbell says he prays to get the laptop back and learned a hard lesson: "Back up all your photos. Do not leave them in your car."
Police say they've now created a task force of undercover officers to patrol Valley neighborhoods because of this growing problem.
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