A day after residents and police from Lafayette and eight other law enforcement agencies caught four young men in the act of burglarizing local homes -- thieves helped themselves to goods inside 14 cars in Lafayette, all obligingly left unlocked by their owners.
The rash of burglaries makes Lafayette Police Chief Mike Hubbard wince.
"Fourteen cars... all unlocked," he said. "Four of the fourteen had the keys in them and those cars with keys had house keys on the ring."
The burglary "hotspot" popped up in the area of Moraga Boulevard and Victoria Lane, Hubbard said Monday. His detectives are still running down exactly what was taken.
"The day after a high profile incident we have this happen," he said. "For the last three or four years I have preached: 'you can do a lot to prevent crime by making sure you do something as simple as locking your car door.'"
The message should be clear after a week of troubling incidents in Lamorinda. In one case, an -- with the thieves driving it to her home and stealing thousands of dollars worth of goods from the residence before leaving in a second car.
On Friday, about roads to search for four men neighbors reported had attempted to burglarize one home, and who had scattered to hide in backyards as police closed in. A gun, a loaded revolver Hubbard said appeared to have been stolen, was discarded by the alleged thieves -- two 18-year-olds and two 16-year-old boys, before they were caught.
"You know, we're always asking for help from the community in these cases and on Friday all that came together," Hubbard said. "People were calling, giving us good, detailed information when we needed it. It really was a team effort and it paid off."
The downside, the chief said, may be the false sense of security some residents apparently feel in a small-town environment.
"Lafayette is safe, very safe," he said, "and incidents of violence are extremely low. It has been shown year after year that more people are injured in traffic incidents than by a criminal act... but just because we're safe does not mean we're always secure."
The chief advised a little heightened vigilance by residents would go a long way.
"We're coming into the shopping season," he said. "It's all about being conscious that there are still some bad guys around who think a sleepy little hamlet might be the perfect place to do what they do."