Rash of break-ins shakes East County suburb

SANTEE, Calif. -- Residents in several Santee neighborhoods woke up Friday morning to find their cars and mailboxes had been broken into.

Natalie Harp said she is one of at least four victims in her area.

“Everything was just spread open. All this was open. Everything was on the ground and out, and there was nothing inside the compartments,” Harp said. “It’s very frustrating. You feel violated. Very violated for sure."

Harp said neighbors found some of her belongings scattered down the street. As of now, she cannot tell if anything of importance is missing, but regardless she filed a report with the San Diego County Sheriff's Department.

“The officer that came out and took the report, he said that the surrounding areas had been hit really bad over the last day, last night. And he said it looks like it’s identity theft,” Harp said.

Some of the victims who spoke with FOX 5 lived along Braveman and Silvercreek drives in the Riverwalk area, and others lived further south along Prospect Avenue.

Also in Harp's neighborhood, people recalled waking up to find rows of mailboxes hanging wide open -- and less than 10 minutes down the road, another community discovered their locked mailboxes had been pried open too.

“It’s surprising to me that somebody can get into your private stuff, and I probably should check my mail everyday now. It’s kind of scary. There’s a lot of personal information that comes through the mail,” Elias Koussa said. “I’ve been thinking about putting cameras in my house, but now it’s like I’m just going to put up cameras. I don’t know what’s going to happen."

Those affected are now warning their neighbors.

“We live in such a great neighborhood that a lot of times we just think ‘oh it can’t happen to me’, and it can happen to you so lock your doors,” Harp said.

FOX 5 learned that the crooks were targeting unlocked cars.

Right now, it is unclear if all the crimes committed during those overnight hours are connected.

FOX 5 reached out to the sheriff's substation in Santee about the issue. We are still waiting to hear back.