Rash of Vehicle Thefts Plagues Hercules Safeway Gas Station

HERCULES, Calif. — Over the past five months, a troubling pattern of thefts targeting unsuspecting victims while they pump gas has emerged at a Safeway gas station located on Sycamore Avenue in Hercules, local law enforcement reports.

"Victims have had items stolen from their cars," noted Hercules Police Department reserve detective Connie Van Putten. In one harrowing instance, a full-fledged armed robbery unfolded, resulting in the theft of a cellphone.

Surveillance footage from various gas stations in neighboring communities has been shared by the police department, shedding light on the alarming trend. The second case took a sinister turn when a female victim engaged in a struggle with a suspect who brazenly snatched her purse from the unlocked passenger seat of her vehicle.

The third incident witnessed the suspect surreptitiously pilfering items from an unsuspecting victim's car, exploiting a moment of vulnerability.

These unsettling events have raised concerns among local residents, prompting increased vigilance. One resident, Jereme, remarked, "I wouldn't even think to look on that side because I would think it'd be safe just because I'm standing here, but now I'm going to be definitely looking out."

In response to these incidents, the police department issues a stark reminder to the community: always lock your car doors and refrain from leaving keys in the ignition while conducting transactions at the gas pump.

Van Putten stressed the importance of concealing personal items, particularly for women and individuals with bags, briefcases, or purses in their vehicles. "If you are a woman or a person who has a briefcase or a purse or any kind of a bag laying on the seat — put it out of sight," she advised.

It is worth noting that all three incidents transpired during daylight hours, with several witnesses present at the scene. Reflecting on the situation, resident Jesus Mendez commented, "Now, when you look around and see what's going on in the Bay Area, you know, it's really not a surprise."

To safeguard themselves, residents are taking precautions, as suggested by Kanwarpaul Singh, who recommended, "Keep some pepper spray on you. If you got a dog, ride with it. Keep that thing in the backseat."

In a glimmer of hope, Hercules PD has reported arrests made in two out of the three ongoing investigations.