By Edwin Folven, 6/28/2012
Police Offer Updates on Crime and Prevention
While crime in the Wilshire and Fairfax Districts is down, according to Capt. Eric Davis, with the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division, more needs to be done to build relationships in the community. Residents from the Wilshire and Fairfax districts walked the beat in neighborhoods around Pan Pacific Park with police officers Tuesday evening in an effort to build stronger partnerships.
The walk was organized by the Mid-City West Community Council (MCWCC), and was led by Capt. Eric Davis, of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division, and Liz Sterbenz, chair of the MCWCC’s Public Safety Committee. Officers and residents headed east on Beverly Boulevard and into the neighborhoods north and south of the busy thoroughfare to discuss crime trends and point out situations that can lead to crimes. Thefts and burglaries are the biggest crime problems in the Wilshire, Melrose and Fairfax District, according to the officers, and authorities pointed out things like residences with high hedges, which can provide cover for burglars, and vehicles with valuables left inside in plain view, which can attract break-ins.
“It’s a good time to point out things that are good about the area, as well as a good opportunity to focus on things that have raised concerns in the community,” Davis said. “This is a chance to bring people together as a group for problem solving, and to discuss some thoughtful solutions.”
The senior lead officers from the area also participated in the walk, including Officer Art Gallegos, who covers the Melrose District north of Beverly Boulevard, and Officer Perry Jones, who covers the neighborhoods south of the thoroughfare. Jones warned about a rash of bicycle thefts in the Miracle Mile and Wilshire areas, and advised residents to register their bikes and keep records of serial number so they can be returned. Jones also said that nearly every day he sees vehicles with a laptop computer, iPod or cell phone plugged into the vehicle’s dashboard, and added that he carries a stack of flyers warning people to keep their valuable locked in the trunk or out of sight.
“It’s something that has been going on for years, but people still do it,” Jones said. “I always tell them, ‘put your valuables away.’ We had one suspect who broke into fifteen or twenty cars before we caught him, and he was targeting vehicles where you could see a laptop or cell phone. They are opportunists. Don’t even leave change in your ash tray, because it attracts them.”
Gallegos also said the top crimes in the Melrose District are thefts and burglaries, and the group stopped at a residence on 1st Street with a tall hedge surrounding the exterior.
“The homes that get hit are the ones where it is hard to see into the yard,” Gallegos added. “There have also been concerns about thefts from persons, so we ask that you always stay alert when you are out in the area.”
Gallegos said there has been a series of street robberies in the Melrose area where the suspects target people talking on cell phones or otherwise not paying attention. He said police are looking for two Hispanic men between 20 and 25 years old, who have been seen driving both a white sedan and a black sedan.
“Know your surroundings,” Davis warned. “In recent days we’ve had three people robbed, and people said they were so engrossed in what they were doing that they didn’t realize what was going on.”
Davis also asked residents to be aware of copper wire thefts from streetlights throughout the Wilshire area. Thieves generally come at night to remove the copper wiring, which they recycle for money. Davis said people should call 911 if they see something suspicious, particularly crews working on the streetlights at night or during non-business hours, without any markings or identification that they are from the city. Authorities also stressed participation in the Community Emergency Response Training program, a group that organizes in response to disasters, and encouraged people to e-mail email@example.com, or firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
Sterbenz said the walks have been held at least once a year for the past three years, and that they are a way to get more people involved in their communities.
“The goal is to get people out to meet the officers they that protect the community,” Sterbenz added. “There has been an uptick in break-ins in cars and some robberies and muggings. Hopefully this will help people feel better about their safety.”