SANTA CLARA (KRON) — There is a warning tonight in the South Bay.

Santa Clara police say car burglars are using new technology to break into your car and steal your stuff.

They say the new technology is making the trick of hiding your valuables in the trunk or under the seat no longer safe.

Santa Clara Police say large shopping center parking lots is where the thefts are mostly happening.

They say thieves choose complexes that are close to the expressways for an easier getaway.

Now police have started to tackle the problem with new initiatives on their end, but the most important thing they can do is educate the public on how not to fall victim. 

“What we need the public to do is not leave their valuables in the car, even the trunk,” said Santa Clara Lt. Todd Cummins.  

Break-ins are a Bay Area epidemic and in Santa Clara, car burglaries are up 121 percent so far this year.

“The break-ins happen very very fast, it’s not minutes, it’s seconds,” he said. 

The thieves are getting more sophisticated too.

Lt. Cummins says they’re driving through parking lots using a number of apps that can actually detect whether or not a Bluetooth device is in your car

“It’s something fairly new, we’ve been noticing it in the last several months,” he said. “We know that tech is being used and that’s how they are able to find some devices and identify the cars they want to break into.”

For the last two years, State Assemblyman Kansen Chu has been working to secure funding for south bay police departments to combat the issue and it paid off. 

The new state budget includes $3.75 million to help Santa Clara, San Jose, Milpitas, Fremont and Newark fight the auto thefts. 

Santa Clara police says they’ve already implemented some changes and the new funding will only help 

“We’re assigning marked cars with uniformed officers to the locations that we’ve identified

in addition to the uniformed officers, we’re using undercover cops and unmarked vehicles in these locations in an effort to catch the criminals.”

Santa Clara police say they think the new measures they’ve taken have actually been working.

Just in the last few weeks they’ve seen a bit of a decrease.

The funding will likely go toward added surveillance cameras and signage in hot spots reminding the public that simply hiding your valuables just isn’t working anymore.