OAKLAND -- Oakland is dealing with a vehicle theft epidemic. The police department reported more than 10,000 stolen vehicles so far this year.
Yasmin Cabrera was in tears outside of the police department after she filed a police report. Someone stole her 2001 Chevy Suburban SUV in front of her apartment Sunday morning.
"(That SUV means) a lot because that car -- I buy it with (money from) collecting bottles from the street," Cabrera said.
Cabrera said she collected bottles and cans for a year to save up $3,000 to buy her SUV. Now she feels the world around her is collapsing.
"My kids go to (school in) Fremont so I have to drive every day for them from Oakland to Fremont. They're not going to go to school because we have to figure out what's going to be next," Cabrera said.
She and her kids moved to Oakland about five months ago. At one point, they were homeless after she lost her job.
"We are close to being homeless here in Oakland," Cabrera said.
Oakland police reported 10,547 stolen vehicles from Jan. 1 to Sept. 17. That averages out to about 40 stolen cars a day, representing a 51% increase compared to the same period last year.
"It's astounding, it's really hard to believe," said Lori Chudacoff, whose husband was carjacked in Oakland this weekend.
"That's insane. I didn't realize it was that bad," said Oakland resident Jennifer Prakit, who had her car stolen Saturday morning.
"While the number is pretty staggering, I wish I could say that I was truly surprised or am truly surprised for that matter because of the lack of leadership in Oakland city government and the lack of accountability," said Oakland resident Eugene Kopman. "My car was parked at the Coliseum BART. I took my son to a baseball game last Sunday and I came back -- the car was gone."
Officers say there are more stolen vehicles than reported car break-ins, which number 10,335 to date. Officers said most people don't report break-ins any more.
Both Kopman and Prakit's vehicles were recovered by Oakland police. They said the SUVs were totaled.
"Everything was burnt to crisp, there was no steering column, no seats, it was down to the wire," Prakit said.
"I was surprised the engine was still there. Everything else is gone. Windows are broken," Kopman said.
The city is planning to install 300 surveillance cameras that also work as license plate readers throughout Oakland by early next year. The interim police chief believes that will help track down some of the stolen cars.
"We do see stolen vehicles being used in other crimes, being parted out for money," said OPD interim chief Darren Allison.
As for Cabrera, she hopes the police will find her SUV.
"I know everything is going to be fine. I know that," Cabrera said.
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