Burglars targeting police vehicles parked in fenced substation lots

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(Source: 3TV/CBS 5) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)

A rash of vehicle burglaries inside the fenced lots at Phoenix police substations has put some dangerous items in the hands of criminals.

There have been three separate instances of burglaries from marked and unmarked police vehicles that were parked inside the fenced and walled lots around two substations.

The most recent incident happened at the Central City Precinct on 16th Street south of Buckeye Road between Friday, Feb. 2 at 2 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 4 at 11 a.m.

Two other burglaries occurred within the past three weeks at the substation at 24th Street and Broadway Road.

Sgt. Vince Lewis said these are crimes of opportunity.

We are still actively investigating this but the lessons learned here are the lessons that we teach very often. Take it; lock it; conceal it.

"Some of these vehicles may have not been properly secured or left unlocked," he said. "There were items in there that should have been properly secured. We’re going through that to find out if there were any policy violations, looking into the possibility of investigations, maybe. If anybody were to be held responsible, maybe facing discipline."

Police say the suspects likely just jumped the fences or block walls around the property and checked for unlocked cars. Whoever is responsible got away with police tactical gear, weapons and a badge, among other things.

“We are still actively investigating this but the lessons learned here are the lessons that we teach very often. Take it; lock it; conceal it,” Lewis said.

Among the weapons take are an AR-15 rifle, a Taser, two large canisters of pepper spray, one police expandable baton, a Glock police-issued handgun and a pocket knife.

"It's a breach in security," Lewis said. "We don’t necessarily like to go into specifics of security, obviously. We do not want to be victimized again." 

The Central City Precinct does not appear to have surveillance cameras that could have recorded the suspects in action. Several businesses nearby confirm that police asked them if they had cameras. None did. 

Lewis said it is the responsibility of the officers to secure their equipment and weapons properly.

The bigger concern is how these suspects are so easily accessing the walled parking lots and rifling through vehicles without anyone seeing them.

"We're going to take a look at what types of security measures could be improved to help prevent this from happening again,” said Lewis.

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Donna RossiEmmy Award-winning reporter Donna Rossi joined CBS 5 News in September 1994.

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Donna Rossi

In that time, Donna has covered some of the most high-profile stories in the Valley and across the state. Donna's experience as a four-year veteran of the Phoenix Police Department gives her a keen sense of crime and court stories. She offered gavel to gavel coverage of the 1999 sleepwalking murder trial of Scott Falater, and the trial and conviction of retired Catholic Bishop Thomas O'Brien for a fatal hit and run accident. She also spent 2 straight weeks in northeastern Arizona in the summer of 2011 covering the Wallow Fire, the largest wildfire in Arizona history.

Donna's reputation as a fair and accurate journalist has earned her the respect of her colleagues and community. Her talent as a reporter has earned her more than a dozen Arizona Associated Press Awards and five Emmy statue.

Donna previously worked as an anchor and reporter in Tucson and got her start in broadcast journalism in Flagstaff. Donna is a past president of the Rocky Mountain Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Arts and Sciences and currently serves on the NATAS board. She is a member of IFP/Phoenix, a non-profit organization of local film and documentary makers.

Donna was born in New York and moved to the Valley with her family when she was 9 years old. She is a graduate of Maryvale High School and attended Arizona State University. She graduated cum laude from Northern Arizona University.

In her free time, Donna enjoys boating on Bartlett Lake, all forms of music and theatre. Donna frequently donates her time to speak to community organizations and emcee their events. She is a past board member of DUET, a non-profit which helps promote health and well-being for older adults. Donna also loves donating her time to youth organizations and groups who work to secure and safeguard human rights.

On Oct. 17, 2015, Donna was honored for her amazing work over the years. The Rocky Mountain Chapter of the National Academy of Televisions Arts and Sciences inducted her into its Silver Circle. It's one of the organization's most prestigious honors for which only a few candidates are selected each year.

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