Tyson Wrensch knew car break-ins were an issue in Oakland, but he never thought his car would be broken into while he was sitting in it. What’s more, he didn’t think it would be broken into again just days later—in the very same parking lot as the first time—as TV crews interviewed him about the first break-in.
“It definitely takes away that feeling of security of sitting in your own car,” Wrensch said. “I’ll never sit in my car to take a phone call or eat a sandwich [again], I’ll lock my car and wait in a building.”
The first incident took place on Jan. 26 at 4:51 p.m., while Wrensch was waiting in a parking lot near the Oakland International Airport. He had parked his rented SUV to get a coffee while waiting to pick up a friend flying in.
In a surveillance video taken in the parking lot Wrensch was waiting in, a man can be seen pulling up in a light-colored SUV behind the victim’s car. The man then gets out of his car and investigates Wrensch’s rear window, before getting back into his car and pulling away.
Then after moving several feet forward, as if to leave the parking lot, the thief stops the car and backs up behind Wrensch's car again, pops the victim’s trunk and makes off with Wrensch’s bag containing his laptop, medication, clothing and passport.
Wrensch can be seen in surveillance footage exiting his car on the phone, unaware that he had just become a victim of theft.
“I’m thinking I must have hit the key fob in my back pocket,” Wrensch said. “I thought, 'Ooh my god, where’s my stuff?' There was no one around; it didn’t make sense.”
Wrensch later called his parents to see if he had left his bag at their home, where he had just gone to visit.
“My dad said he saw me put it in the back of the SUV. That’s when I knew,” Wrensch said.
On Sunday, after dropping his friend off at the airport, Wrensch went back to the parking lot and watched the restaurant’s surveillance tapes. In the footage, he saw how the thief had made off with his bag—realizing that when he put the car in park, it unlocked his doors and the trunk.
The second time his car was broken into was Monday at around noon, when Wrensch was being interviewed by TV news crews following the first brazen car break-in.
Wrensch said he was sitting inside the restaurant with reporters when he heard yelling outside from the media security team. Wrensch ran outside only to see a man fleeing the scene, and later found the corner rear window of his rented car smashed in. Nothing was in his car that time.
“Both times were during broad daylight, lunch or dinner rushes, not at 10 p.m. when you can’t see anything,” Wrensch said.
Wrensch said a nearby business owner told him that they see between eight and 10 break-ins in that parking lot every day.
“The fact that cars are being broken into eight to 10 times a day, it’s like, 'C’mon, [Oakland Police] gotta get on that,'” Wrensch said.
When Wrensch reported the first break-in to police, he said they seemed “genuinely shocked.” Now, he says, he’ll have to report Monday’s break-in, too.
“I’ll have to call to add an addendum,” Wrensch said.
An Oakland Police Department spokesperson said in an email that OPD has been "made aware" of both auto burglaries and that both are being investigated.
Garrett Leahy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org