Sheriff’s officials warn of burglary spike in Altadena

ALTADENA — Sheriff’s officials met with Altadena residents Wednesday evening to ask for their vigilance and warn them of an spike in burglaries this year.
More than 200 people attended the event, held at Webster Elementary School, which was hosted by commanders and detectives from the sheriff’s Altadena Station.
“It’s been a bad year, especially in the east half of Altadena, for burglaries (and) thefts, but especially residential burglaries,” Los Angeles County sheriff’s Detective Richard Pippin.
Officials responded to 204 reports of burglaries as of Wednesday this year, Pippin said, up from 160 burglaries reported at the same time last year. That amounts to an increase of 27.5 percent.
Authorities added that they take burglaries, particularly residential burglaries where the crooks are more likely to encounter residents, seriously.
“It’s a real violation of the sanctity of a home,” Pippin said.
Detectives attribute the majority of the crimes to cliques of the Bloods street gang which call Altadena home.
The Pasadena Denver Lanes Bloods, the Altadena Denver Lanes Bloods, the Squiggly Lanes Bloods and the Project Gangster Bloods all operate in the area, Pippin said, and have apprently taken in increased interest in burglary.
“I think it’s sort of a gang trend,” he said.
The most common form of residential burglary going on now is that where the burglars first knock on the front door of a home to see if anyone is home, then break in through the back if they don’t get an answer.
This type of burglary is most common during daylight hours, when residents are often at work, Pippin said. If someone does come to the door, the crooks will often have a story prepared, such as they are searching for a lost cat or need water for an overheated radiator.
If a suspicious person does knock at the door, Pippin said, residents are advised not to remain silent.
“Do not play possum in the house,” he said, as that may lead crooks to believe no one is home and it’s a good place to break in. “Don’t answer (the door), but do something to let them know you’re in the house.”
In another scheme, officials said, one burglar will distract a resident by telling them they are some sort of worker who needs access to the back yard, while others ransack the home.
Officials offered several tips to help residence reduce their likelihood of becoming victims of a burglary.
“There is nothing more effective than knowing your neighbors,” Pippin said, and being able to recognize when something is amiss.
Locks, alarm systems, security lights and dogs were all offered as suggestions, as well as keeping windows covered to prevent burglars from window shopping and making sure the entrances to homes are visible from the street.
If residents own guns, they’re urged to keep them in a safe that’s bolted into the floor to prevent them from being stolen in burglaries.
“None of these things will guarantee your house will be safe, but they’re deterrents,” Pippin said.
Sheriff’s Altadena station Capt. Roosevelt Blow said he was pleased to see the meeting so well attended.
“It shows that you have concern, and we appreciate that,” Blow said.
Fred DeVito, 57, of Altadena said he found the meeting “informative.”
“It let’s us know as residents that (officials) are concerned and trying to stop it,” he said.
“When he started talking about the gangs, that kind of scared me,” DeVito said, but added he’s glad officials are speaking candidly with the community about local issues.
“You don’t want them to sugar-coat it,” he said.

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