By SARAH SHMERLING | Editor-in-Chief
With a little less than two months left in 2020, Los Angeles Police Department Senior Lead Officer Michael Moore provided year-to-date information about local crimes that have occurred—noting a spike in cases of burglary/theft from vehicles.
“[Burglary/theft from vehicle] is the only area of concern for the Palisades,” Moore summarized, a crime which has plagued all neighborhoods of the community.
“I encourage all of you, just like everybody has been told before: lock it, hide it, keep it,” LAPD Officer Brian Espin said during a Pacific Palisades Community Council meeting at the start of summer. “Don’t leave anything in your car, even if it’s an empty backpack, it’s still enticing somebody walking by and that’s going to give them that motivation to get into a car.”
Compared to this time in 2019, there has been a nearly 33% increase in instances of burglary/theft from vehicles, jumping from 116 cases to 154.
Robbery has so far remained the same, with nine reported at both this time in 2019 and so far in 2020. Burglary dropped by two instances, with 47 so far in 2019 and 45 in 2020.
Grand theft auto has increased by two, with 36 at this time in 2019 and 38 so far in 2020. Assault with a weapon has also largely remained the same, with 11 reported at this time in 2019 and 10 so far in 2020. Moore reported 65 cases of theft so far in 2020, when in 2019, the number was at 69.
When it comes to the entire West Los Angeles area, compared to 2019 year-to-date information, there has been a 7.3% reduction in violent crime and a .4% reduction in property crime, according to LAPD West Division Commanding Officer Captain III Jonathan Tom.
The only crime categories with significant increases so far this year were homicides, which went from one instance to four, and grand theft auto, which is up 59.3% from 337 reports to 537.
“In our analysis of these crime categories, we believe that both crimes are up in large part due to COVID-19-related issues,” Tom wrote. “Two of the four homicides occurred at short-term rental party houses, which had seen an increase in activity during COVID due to bars and night clubs being closed.”
When it comes to grand theft auto, Tom reported that LAPD believes this is due, in large part, to more people staying home, which means they check their vehicles less.
“For several months this year, we saw a disturbing trend of approximately 50% of the stolen vehicles having their key fobs left in the vehicles,” Tom explained. “Utilizing our senior lead officers, social media and community organizations, we were able to get the word out to the community to remind that although we are a relatively safe community, we all have to do our part to minimize the chances of being a victim of crime.”
Tom touched on the fact that large gatherings and party houses continue to be a problem throughout the West LA area, but that LAPD has had “great success” since implementing a more effective strategy two months ago. There is now dedicated resources Thursday through Saturday nights that respond to radio calls for parties of this nature.
“While we do cite for loud music,” Tom shared, “the most effective tool we have had is the threat of the mayor’s office disconnecting Department of Water and Power services from locations that have received two notices of violation of the mayor’s Safer LA order. We have made two referrals to the mayor’s office for DWP disconnection, resulting in one disconnection and one pending approval.”
In the report, Tom explained that being observant reduces the chance of becoming a victim of a crime, as criminals will generally choose what they perceive to be easy targets.
“Live your lives, but be cautious as you go about your daily activities,” Tom warned. “Be vigilant and aware of your surroundings. Hide your valuables and lock your vehicles, homes and businesses. Install motion-activated lights and security cameras if possible and get to know your neighbors.
“If you do all of these things, you will reduce the chances that you will be the victim of a crime.”
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