Monday, January 17, 2011 at 2:02 p.m.
Update, Jan. 17, 2:02 p.m.: In a bit of outdated but worthwhile news, police have arrested the man they believe was breaking into the cars of surfers while they were in the water. After a brief foot chase along the Balboa Peninsula, officers took Michael Andrew Herz, 52, into custody last Wednesday.
Officers had been posted throughout the area, trying to catch him in the act. When they approached Herz near Seashore Drive and Fern Street, he took off running toward Canal Street. He was about to jump into the canal before deciding better and giving himself up.
He was arrested on suspicion of burglary. Authorities warn that Herz likely isn't the only car burglar.
Original Post, Jan. 10, 11:31 a.m.:
For surfers parking in Hungtington and Newport, it may not be safe to enter the water. At least, not safe for their cars and any valuables inside.
Huntington Beach police have released photos (right, and after the jump) of the man they believe has been targeting the cars of surfers, who hide their keys on the cars or leave them in a towel or backpack on the shoreline while they're in the water.
The suspect is believed to be white, between 35 and 40 years of age, 5-foot-10, and 180 pounds and sporting a long, sleazy-looking gray-and-blond goatee.
There have been three reported incidents
of the man finding the hidden key, opening up the vehicle and stealing whatever valuables he may find. On two occasions, when stealing wallets, he's been caught on video surveillance using credit cards at local grocery stores.
The likelihood is that he's spotting surfers as they park and change, then watching as they hide their car keys somewhere on the body of the vehicle, a common practice among surfers.
Probably best to start using those key pockets on wetsuits and leashes.
Anyone with information about further incidents or the suspect is encouraged to contact the HBPD.