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Cabazon shopper warns of car break-ins at outlet mall amid spree of ‘smash-and-grab’ burglaries

Authorities across the southland and the state are on high alert after a spree of burglaries and break-ins at high-end shopping centers in Los Angeles, San Francisco and even a little closer to home.

James Campbell says thousands of dollars of personal items were stolen from his car Saturday afternoon at the outlet malls in Cabazon.

"Be very careful," Campbell said. "Think where you're going to park your car."

He and his family were on their way from LA to Arizona. They returned to their rental car on the top floor of the parking garage at Desert Hills Premium Outlets to find his back right windows smashed, and three of his family's suitcases snatched from the trunk.

"Everything was gone," Campbell said. "It looked like they used a circular object to go ahead and pop open the small part... They didn't open the doors the alarm didn't trigger, so these are pros. They know what they're doing."

Campbell said security and police were prompt to respond, but it's concerning to him that there were no security cameras to capture the incident.

After a closer look, Campbell said he worries car break-ins could be happening at the Cabazon outlets more than people might think.

"We started to notice that there was glass everywhere on the floor, not only around my car but it looked like in other spots," he said. "We asked the security... and they kind of hinted that this happens a lot here."

Simon, which owns the outlet malls, declined to comment. Riverside County Sheriff's Department did not respond.

A spree of violent 'smash-and-grab' robberies is targeting California retailers heading into the holidays.

A large group of looters used a sledgehammer to break into a Nordstrom at The Grove in Los Angeles Monday night. They ransacked the store and stole thousands of dollars of merchandise.

Heavy barricades went up Tuesday morning as crews cleaned up the shattered glass.

And Sunday in the Bay Area, a "flash mob" of 40-50 looters targeted a jewelry store in a mall there.

"I think it's a crazy time right now and I think people are bolder than ever," said El Paseo shopper Christine German. "You just need to be careful, but you also need to go about your business and about your life."

These incidents are giving some shoppers pause that even they could become the targets.

"For those listening, we have nothing, zero in the car," joked Cabazon shopper Tom Salter.

For Campbell, the message is for people to remain vigilant and be careful. "This can ruin your holiday season," he said.

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Jake Ingrassia

Joining News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 as a reporter, Jake is excited to be launching his broadcasting career here in the desert. Learn more about Jake here.


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