By GABRIELLA BOCK | Reporter
With property crimes on the rise, The Huntington Palisades Property Owners Association has rallied their neighbors to create a new, technologically equipped neighborhood watch program.
On Tuesday, May 16, nearly 40 residents of the Huntington community gathered in the living room of homeowner Lauren Evans to discuss actions needed to create a vigilant program that will deter local crime during what could be a hot summer for criminals.
The night’s high turnout was prompted by the area’s rising property crime rates, an issue that Evans said has gone “too far for too long.”
As neighbors shared stories of their own encounters with vandalism, burglary and car theft, a common question seemed to dominate the discussion.
“Why now and why here?” one local asked.
Lieutenant Randy Goddard, commanding officer of the West Los Angeles Detective Division, said it can be linked to California’s rulings of Propositions 47 and 57, which have both reduced penalties and time served for nonviolent property crimes.
“West LA has seen a 48-percent increase in property crime this year,” Goddard said.
“That’s going to continue. A mass influx of parolees are due to be released over the next few months, and unfortunately, due to the system’s inability to rehabilitate criminals, the majority of these people will become ‘release and repeat’ offenders.”
Goddard went on to explain that with fewer consequences, criminals have a higher incentive to burglarize vacant homes or steal from unlocked vehicles rather than to rob victims by force.
LAPD Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore then took the floor to expand on the Pacific Palisades’ specific problem—low crime reporting and, subsequently, a lack of police patrol cars.
“Small crimes in the Palisades often go unreported,” Moore said. “If you don’t make a crime report, you’re cheating yourself and your neighborhood—cars are dispersed where they are deemed as necessary.”
To this end, Moore recommended that more residents utilize security tools like Ring’s Video Doorbell and Floodlight Surveillance System while using their intuition to help keep each other informed on suspicious activity.
“Know your neighborhood,” Moore said. “If something seems wrong, chances are that it is.”
This is where the watch comes into play.
Each block will have a designated captain that residents can contact if they see anything out of the ordinary. From there, the captain will notify watch members on their block via text message before contacting the captains of neighboring blocks. Those captains will then notify their own watch members.
Through this system, an entire neighborhood can be on alert in just a matter of minutes.
“It’s such an easy, simple way to monitor our neighborhood,” Evans told the Palisadian-Post. “I can’t believe we haven’t done it sooner.”
The Huntington Neighborhood Watch will gain their signs in June, which will then be distributed throughout the neighborhood. Already off to a strong start Evans has filled captain roles for 18 out of 34 residential blocks, but she is still looking for more volunteers.
“The commitment is minimal and the output is huge,” she said. “Through just a little effort we can make our community a safer place to be.”
If you’re a Huntington resident and would like to participate, please contact Lauren Evans at firstname.lastname@example.org.