By Katie Nielsen

CASTRO VALLEY (CBS SF) — An East Bay community was on edge Saturday night after a string of brazen mid-day car break-ins and package thefts.

It happened on Thursday just before noon in the Five Canyons neighborhood in Castro Valley. Long time resident, Christine Merry, said she thought it was odd to see a black pickup truck stopped in front of her house as she drove up. She says she knew something was wrong when the driver took off as soon as he saw her.

Merry rushed inside the house and looked at the video from her Ring doorbell camera and was shocked at what she saw.

That same black truck pulled up and stopped in front of her house only moments before she got home.

“Their music was blaring, there were three people in the truck,” she said.

In the video, she says you can hear one man tell the other to go steal the box off her front porch.

“Package brother. Go get that !” someone shouts.

As one person breaks into her husband’s pickup parked on the curb, another gets out, runs up to the porch, grabs the box and casually walks back to the truck. He throws it into the bed with what appears to be other boxes.

“If I had been 10 seconds earlier, I would have watched him walk off my porch. Who knows what would have happened to me,” Merry said.

At least five other homeowners in the same neighborhood reported they’d also been victimized by the three men in a black pickup truck that same Thursday afternoon.

“Every agency in the Bay Area has seen an uptick in theft related crimes,” said Sgt. Ray Kelly with the Alameda County Sheriffs Department.

Kelly said thefts and property crimes are up 12%. He said a neighborhood being targeted by a group of thieves isn’t surprising, but what is surprising is the fact these thieves were being so conspicuous in the middle of the day.

“If someone is that brazen, they aren’t worried about the penalties of getting caught,” Kelly said.

Due to COVID-19, if a suspect is arrested for a non-violent property crime like this, they will be charged and released on zero bail. It’s part of an effort to reduce the inmate population and potential exposure to the virus.

The whole situation isn’t very comforting for Merry who says her sense of security has been shattered.

“This is too much. We’re too old. We’re in our 70s. I thought this was safe up here. It’s not. It’s just not. Not like it used to be,” she said.

The Alameda County Sheriffs Department said they did arrested one suspect Saturday morning in connection with this case. Deputies said the suspect was a 15-year-old boy from Castro Valley. Investigators said he was also connected a number of other cases, including stolen cars, burglaries and other package thefts.

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