SAN DIEGO -- Residents in East County are fed up with thieves breaking into their cars.
In unincorporated El Cajon, people who live along Pepper Drive near Orange Grove Road told FOX 5 their neighborhood has been hit hard by thieves. On Wednesday, Viviana Romero said she watched a man break into her car.
“I saw his hand go up and I actually opened my window and yelled out the window, and as soon as I did that he just smashed my window, snatched my bag and then got in the car,” Romero said.
The man got away with her debit card. Unfortunately, Romero said this is not the first time this has happened. Her car was targeted before, just weeks ago. "All they took was my daughters bat,” Romero said of the first break-in.
Down the street, FOX 5 met a neighbor with a similar story. Victoria Raymetz said a crook stole her son's baseball bats and his watch from her SUV.
“You just feel violated, whether they took something personal or they ... took nothing at all. You feel violated that someone was just in your space in general,” Raymetz said.
It is a feeling Raymetz said has become widespread in her neighborhood.
“It happened to them across the street. It happened to her, her wedding rings got stolen in her car next door,” Raymetz said, gesturing to a neighbor's house.
Victims are hoping law enforcement catches up to the thieves soon, fearing these petty crimes could turn into something more.
“I have two children myself so that’s definitely huge, you know, that’s what’s keeping me up at night. It’s our car today, but what’s tomorrow?” Romero asked.
The San Diego County Sheriff's Department told FOX 5 the rate of vehicle break-ins has remained constant over the last several months and deputies are actively providing extra patrols.
For now, neighbors said they are watching out for each other and beefing up security.
The Sheriff's Department wants to remind people to report any suspicious activity and to let them know if your car is broken into. Also, deputies said to remember to take all valuables out of your vehicle, to keep your windows rolled up and your doors locked.