By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
A hot prowl burglary that took place on Hartzell Street has prompted a community discussion about public safety, police response time and how to prevent future incidents in Pacific Palisades.
Near the 700 block of Hartzell on October 17 between 6:50 and 7:10 p.m., suspects smashed a rear glass door to enter the home, according to the Los Angeles Police Department report, circulated by Pacific Palisades Senior Lead Officer Brian Espin. The suspects removed property (jewelry and watch) and fled the location when they realized two kids who live there were home.
“In this incident, the suspects entered the residence while residents were upstairs,” Espin wrote in the report. “Once the residents heard voices and the noise of someone in the house, the residents opened the upstairs door and saw the suspects walking inside the house. One of the suspects was holding a kitchen knife while walking upstairs.”
The knife was recovered and booked as evidence, according to Espin. Prints have been requested.
“In almost all of our burglaries, the suspects don’t want the confrontation,” Espin explained. “They will usually flee once they realize somebody is inside.”
The burglary has prompted a community discussion about public safety and police response times, including during the October 27 Pacific Palisades Community Council, when the homeowners attended to address Espin and share their story.
“I’d like to say that when I was on the phone, you guys did take a really long time,” one of the residents who was home at the time of the Hartzell incident said to Espin. “I didn’t feel really safe either.”
Prior to hearing from the homeowners, Espin gave a presentation on where crime is centered and why resources are deployed more in certain areas, like the center of the West LA Division. He shared that the average response time for a code three, which is lights and sirens, is 7.6 minutes in the West LA area.
While the Palisades has a dedicated car assigned to the area, Espin said, the patrol unit gets pulled away for things like going back to the station after an arrest or assisting in incidents that take place outside of the Palisades.
“They get bounced around,” Espin said, “all the patrol units get bounced around like ping-pong balls, honestly, through the West LA area.”
For the Hartzell incident, officers were responding from the mid-West LA area, Espin explained, adding that area is around Pico/Overland. From when officers received the call to when they arrived at the house, it was 14 minutes.
Some community members then reported their understanding was it was 18 minutes, and Espin explained this was likely the response time from when the 911 call was placed, not when officers received it.
“Fourteen or 18, it’s a long time,” PPCC Chair Maryam Zar said. “And if our car wasn’t here, I think that makes it more crystal clear for us in this community that we need to really work with our council office and the incoming captain to keep the extra two officers here in the Palisades, not have them rotate out because the beach season has subsided.”
In the crime report sent October 27, Espin reported that the Palisades had been “hit harder than normal in regard to burglaries” that week, but the community is still trending 13% lower in year-to-date numbers.
In addition to the Hartzell incident, there were three other burglaries included in the report that took place at the blocks of 17500 Tramonto Drive, 500 Bienveneda Avenue and 500 N Las Casas Avenue.
In two instances, according to the report, the suspects at Tramonto and Las Casas smashed glass in the rear of the homes to enter the residences, remove property and flee. On Bienveneda Avenue, a suspect entered the victim’s garage by “prying open [the] door with [an] unknown tool.” Unknown suspects took property from the garage and fled to an unknown location.
Reports by members of the community of an incident on Chautauqua Boulevard, possibly by the same suspects as the Hartzell incident, were not confirmed by LAPD as the Palisadian-Post went to print Tuesday. Espin responded during the PPCC meeting that he was “not aware” of that incident.
To help prevent burglaries, Espin recommended that when people leave their homes, they make the residence have the appearance that someone is home.
“Lock your side gates,” Espin shared. “Make it difficult for the burglar to gain access to your backyard. Most homes are entered from the rear.”
He also suggested getting security cameras, and making sure they are visible.
“Ultimately, what it comes down to, if somebody really wants to get in the house, they’ll find a way … so we just have to make it a little harder,” Espin explained during the PPCC meeting. “The best deterrent that I’ve seen already is being super vigilant within the neighborhood on your street—eyes out on the street. Have a neighborhood watch.”
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