Warning to families about vehicle break-ins at San Diego Zoo - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Warning to families about vehicle break-ins at San Diego Zoo

Posted: Updated:

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – A family visiting from Connecticut was unaware the San Diego Zoo isn't the keeper of lot when their car was broken into in the lot outside the zoo.  

The Jelenik family from Connecticut thought they were safe but instead they were targets for thieves.

“Who would think a world wide attraction would not be a safe place to leave your vehicle,” said Allison Jelenik.

A San Diego police officer responding to the break-in told the family these break-ins happen almost everyday in the lot.

On Wednesday, the Jelenik's were soaking up the last of their vacation and stopped at the San Diego Zoo before they flew home.

When they returned to their rented SUV parked in aisle marked by Panda 4 they found a burglar took all of their items.

“You assume that is a safe place to leave your vehicle and that is going to be secured by the zoo,” said Allison Jelenik.

Their luggage and medication were gone and the only thing left in the SUV was a pair of pants. Everyone had identification to fly back home but their daughter didn't, which they say caused a headache in airport security.

A zoo spokesperson says the parking lot is city property and the zoo has security inside and right outside the zoo but the San Diego Police Department is in charge of security in the parking lot.

CBS News 8 spoke to other visitors who believed because it's the zoo the lot would be safe.

“It felt secure, yes, it felt pretty secure,” said the Lister family from England.

A spokesperson for the zoo says they are not responsible for security in the parking lot. They maintain and pave the lot but San Diego police patrols the lot and randomly uses the observation towers.

The aisles are identified with zoo animal markers and there are portable lights in the parking lot for night zoo visitors. Victims of crime are asked to call police to report a crime and the parking lot is in the SDPD beat area.

Dozens of break-ins are reported each month but there are no security cameras or constant security on site in the parking lot.

“Why would they allow people like us who come across the country to patronize this establishment, pay our money into this tourism industry and the taxes going into this city, why would they not want to keep us safe? Why wouldn't they want to make us feel safe to come back again,” said Jelenik.

She wants visitors to know it's up to them to protect themselves from crooks.

“I am hopeful that by my doing so other people will not have to deal with the misery that we are dealing with right now in our family,” said Jelenik.

The San Diego Police Department released this statement:

“As with any parking lot that serves thousands of cars each day, there are going to be occasional car burglaries. These include both rental and non-rental vehicles. We work very closely with the Zoo to prevent such crimes and apprehend those that commit them. We want to remind citizens the best way to deter vehicle burglaries is to ensure that nothing is left in plain sight that someone would want to steal.The San Diego Police Department routinely distributes this information to citizens who park in public places such as malls, etc. In addition, we pass on this information at community meetings, our website, and through social media.”- Lt. Kevin Mayer.

Some of the footage in the above video report was shot using a GoPro camera.

Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2018 Midwest Television, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.