On March 25, 2021, at about 7 a.m., Humboldt County Sheriff’s deputies were dispatched to the area of Little Pond Street and Winchester Avenue in McKinleyville for the report of a car prowler.
According to the reporting party, the prowler, later identified as 37-year-old Thomas Manuel Prince, was captured on home surveillance video checking car doors and in possession of burglary tools. A short time later, the reporting party observed Prince at a neighbor’s residence reportedly setting items down near a travel trailer.
Deputies arrived in the area and located Prince walking on Winchester Avenue near Killdeer Road. During a search of Prince, deputies located stolen items, burglary tools and pepper spray. Additionally, deputies determined that the items set near the travel trailer had also been stolen from a nearby residence.
Prince was arrested and booked into the Humboldt County Correctional Facility on charges of possession of burglary tools (PC 466) and felon in possession of tear gas (PC 22810(a)), in addition to warrant charges of vandalism (PC 594(b)(1)), possession of a narcotic controlled substance (HS 11350(a)), driving with a suspended license (VC 14601.2) and failure to provide proof of insurance (VC 16028(a)).
This case is still under investigation. Anyone with information about this case or related criminal activity is encouraged to call the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251 or the Sheriff’s Office Crime Tip line at (707) 268-2539.
Car prowl, also known as theft from vehicles, is a crime of opportunity. An offender makes a decision to break into a vehicle based on a perception that there are items of value inside the vehicle, which makes the potential payoff worth the risk. A car prowl can be completed in a minute or less, and a significant number of these crimes occur between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
Car prowl is one of the easiest crimes to prevent with increased awareness and a change in habits. The following steps will reduce the chances that your vehicle will be targeted:
- Keep the interior of your vehicle “showroom” clean. Never leave valuables in plain view. Offenders often break into vehicles for items such as gym bags because they assume there are electronic devices or other items inside.
- Hide chargers and accessories that indicate a GPS, mobile phone or other devices that support electronics.
- Remove garage door openers, key cards, and house or work keys from your car.
- Park your car in a well-lit area. Trim back trees and bushes that block the view of your vehicle from your house.
- Always lock your vehicle, even if you are home.
To report a vehicle burglary, car prowler or related criminal activity, please contact the Humboldt County Sheriff’s Office at (707) 445-7251.