Ventura surfers beware
Car thieves use hidden keys and devastate beachgoers
By Michael Sullivan 01/10/2013
It was the last surf trip in her home town before Kimberly “Kimi” Carroll and her boyfriend started the road trip back to college in Washington State. On New Year’s Day, she and her boyfriend found a parking spot at Surfers Point, suited up, locked their Jeep and found a secret hiding spot in a tree before they hit the surf. For the pair, one last day on the waves before leaving Ventura seemed like the perfect ending until they headed back to their car.
“When did you put the snowboard by the front of the car?” Carroll’s boyfriend asked.
“I didn’t,” she responded.
That’s when they realized things had gone terribly wrong. Since they were literally planning to leave from Surfers Point to head up the coast for Washington State, they had packed everything. Two new laptops, a Garman (GPS), cellphones, clothing and her purse with $1,000 cash for the ride home. Almost everything that could have been grabbed out of the car easily, with the exception of her beloved Chihuahua, was gone. Carroll estimated that the thief or thieves got away with around $5,000 in valuables and cash.
“It was pretty much everything I had to my name,” Carroll said. “They really did a lot of damage, more than just the average Joe. We have started to rebuild a little bit. It is just a matter of just regrouping.”
Because of such a severe loss, Carroll said she will have to put off going back north and finishing school, where she had just been accepted to physical therapy school. The cash she had on hand was all she had to get back to Washington State.
Whether or not this tragic event could have been avoided may be debatable, but as Carroll recalled in tears her last visit to Surfers Point, she remembered a gray Dodge van that seemed out of the ordinary. She said that when she went to hide her keys — as many surfers do — she noticed that the van left shortly after she and her boyfriend had gotten into the water. She had hidden her keys in a nearby tree and said that she felt the driver had seen her hide her keys and waited for them to get in the water, a perfect time to grab and go. She never recovered her keys. Thankfully, she said, the surfers hanging out at the point were extremely generous, letting the couple borrow cell phones and giving them $10 bills and $20 bills. A member of the Ventura Surf Club even paid for the Jeep to be towed to the nearby home of Carroll’s parents.
“The compassion and generosity of these surfers far outweighed what happened to us,” Carroll said, stressing again and again how grateful she was for the help of her fellow surfers.
Commander Al Davis of the Ventura Police Department said that thefts (cars unlocked) and/or burglaries (cars broken into by force) at Surfers Point and under the bridge at Sanjon Road and Harbor Boulevard aren’t unusual. Davis said that more burglaries occur at Sanjon than at Surfers Point.
“We have regular ongoing car thefts” in those areas, Davis said. “People put keys in the gas cap, by the tires, but the thieves are watching what surfers do.”
He said that surfers should bring their keys with them in waterproof containers. He also suggested leaving valuables at home or, at least, in the trunk.
“There are ways to break windows on the cars that take one to two seconds,” he said. “They break it and will be gone in four to five seconds.
Davis said that some people assume that vagrants are to blame for the thefts, but he said there was no way to know until someone is caught. He also noted there are skilled thieves who make their livings off such crimes.
“It is a generalization,” he said. “The culprits — they may or may not be homeless. People are much more sophisticated and [sometimes] don’t look anything out of the ordinary.”