‘Back Seat Bandits’ Are Still Out There


The notorious “Back Seat Bandits” who have been stealing the third-row seats from luxury SUV’s for the past several years, struck four times in Burbank over the weekend of September 14-16.

Burbank Police report that the thefts, which are classified as auto burglaries, began Friday evening, when the owner of a 2012 Cadillac Escalade discovered that their vehicle had been broken into.  The Escalade was parked in the Islands/AMC 16 parking structure at 133 E. Orange Grove Ave., from 7:45 to 9:50 p.m. The thieves punched the driver’s side door lock to gain entry and remove the third row seat.

The second reported incident occurred across town near Oak St. and Pass Ave. Sometime between 8:30 p.m. Friday, and 9:30 a.m. Saturday morning.  Once again, the driver’s side door lock had been punched, and the third row seats taken.

On Saturday afternoon, a 2011 Chevrolet Tahoe was broken into while parked in the AMC 16 parking garage at 108 E. Magnolia Blvd.   The vehicle was parked there between 2:45 and 5:45 p.m., when it was targeted by the thieves.  They punched the driver’s side door lock and removed the third row seats.

The “Back Seat Bandits” struck one final time Saturday night, when they broke into a 2007 Chevrolet Suburban.  The SUV was parked in the Elephant Bar parking structure located at 148 E. Orange Grove Ave., between 7:45 and 9:10 p.m.   Once again, the driver’s door lock was punched and the third row seats taken.

No suspects or vehicles were seen in these crimes.  In the past, witnesses have observed thieves driving vans when they commit the thefts.  The van is used to shield the victim’s SUV from view as one thief punches the lock to unlock the rear tailgate door. The third row seats, if not secured by extra locks and cables, are quickly unlatched and put into the thieves’ van through the sliding side door.  The entire operation takes less than a minute. Replacement seats can cost several hundred to thousands of dollars.

In the past, police have suggested SUV owners remove the third row seats if they are not using them, and store them in their garages.  Another anti-theft measure is to back into parking spaces to make it more difficult to get to the tailgate door.