Three recent home burglaries in La Cañada Flintridge that were committed while the residents were there appear to be connected, a Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s captain said at a City Council meeting this week.
The rash of burglaries occurring on Aug. 25, Sept. 2 and Sept. 4 has alarmed officials.
Local crime statistics show that residential burglaries have nearly doubled so far this year compared to last, with 69 reported residential burglaries through August versus 35 during the same period of 2018.
“This is very, very shocking that this type of stuff is happening, but we’re convinced it’s the same people,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Capt. Todd Deeds said Tuesday night.
The first of the three burglaries occurred at 9 p.m. in the 1200 block of Homewood Lane, Deeds said. A female resident watching television heard glass breaking at the rear of the home. She screamed and saw masked men run out of the house, said Deeds, who heads the Crescenta Valley Station.
A little more than a week later, on Sept. 4, a couple came home around 9 p.m. in the 4200 block of Shepherds Lane after watching a Dodgers game, Deeds said. After parking their car toward the rear of the home, the residents walked in and saw broken glass and two suspects inside.
“The suspects are rummaging through the property, trashing the property area,” Deeds said. “The husband, he decided he didn’t want these folks to steal his property, so a struggle ensued.”
The incident report said the couple entered the master bedroom and saw two men, wearing all-black clothing and hooded sweatshirts covering most of their faces, in a walk-in closet. The men were described as 6 feet 2 inches tall with medium builds and were black, based on the part of their faces that were not covered, the report said. The husband, who saw the suspects holding his belongings, yelled, “What are you doing here?” The suspects became startled and ran out of the closet, but one of them pushed the husband against the wall, according to the report.
The suspect punched the man numerous times, authorities said. The husband then hit the suspect a number of times and wrapped an arm around his neck to try to stop the attack.
The wife told authorities she threw a small, wooden interior dog fence at one of the suspects and then her husband yelled, “Get the gun.” The husband told police he stopped struggling with the suspect after he heard one yell, “Shoot him.” The suspects then ran out the kitchen door, entered a dark-colored vehicle and sped away toward Descanso Drive, authorities said.
“In all fairness to the residents, I think once they got inside the house they realized they were being burglarized and they decided to take action,” Deeds said. “Thankfully, nobody was hurt.”
Deeds added that he talked to the woman and learned the couple have lived in the area for 30 years and “they’ve said this has never happened before. Unfortunately, they didn’t set the alarm before they had left.”
Two days after that incident, a man was sleeping about 9:30 p.m. in his home in the 4500 block of Encinas Drive, Deeds said.
“An elderly man was sleeping, he hears noises, he looks up and there’s two masked men inside of his bedroom,” Deeds said. The intruders fled, he added.
The sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau “is working all three of those cases and we’re very hopeful we’ll be able to identify all of those people and get them into custody,” Deeds said.
Councilman Gregory Brown asked Deeds if residents should call the Sheriff’s Department if they see something unusual, like broken glass.
“Yes, we would want them to step away from the residence and call us immediately so we can respond and make sure nobody is in the house,” Deeds said. “The last thing we want people to do is engage [with a suspect] because we don’t know what can happen.”
Deeds’ comments came during the public safety report for July and August.
In July, there were no homicides, rapes, robberies or aggravated assaults, according to Crescenta Valley Station crime statistics. There were 13 residential burglaries in July, compared with six in June. In August, there were no homicides but one rape, one robbery and 10 residential burglaries.
Deeds said the rape was being investigated and the victim knew the person who assaulted her, so the department does not believe there is a wider issue of “someone out sexually assaulting women in the city.”
The August robbery was reported as a carjacking in which a 26-year-old man demanded a car outside Starbucks on Verdugo Boulevard and was later arrested in the Santa Clarita area. Deeds said the incident had “no nexus to the city at all. Somehow he ended up here.”
This year, there have been 69 residential burglaries, compared with 35 during the same period last year. Deeds said the sheriff’s station will continue its efforts to stop the residential burglaries.
“It’s just unacceptable for all of us,” Deeds said. “We’re working very hard. It’s giving me sleepless nights waking up and reading about this stuff.”
He added there were nine residential burglaries in the last days of July and the beginning of August.
“Glendale police arrested three people responsible for at least one burglary in La Cañada,” Deeds said. “That took place on Aug. 5. But we believe those people are actually responsible for more. We think they’re the ones responsible for the majority that happened in July and the beginning of August.”
The department started to “saturate” the area when the burglaries ramped up and from Aug. 5 until Aug. 25 there weren’t any, Deeds said.
Deeds said he encouraged residents to invest in a quality alarm system while making sure there are enough sensors in the house, talk to neighbors and form or join a neighborhood block watch group to combat crime.
“It’s just people becoming more aware,” Deeds said.
According to county Fire Department statistics, there have been 14 fires this year compared with 28 in the same period last year, while medical calls have increased to 675 this year from 647 last year. There were three traffic collisions involving pedestrians in July but Anderson Mackey, an assistant fire chief, said he had no further information surrounding the circumstances.
SOME SOUND WALLS DELAYED
City Public Works Director Patrick DeChellis said in his update on projects that there was a “slight setback” on the third phase of 210 Freeway sound wall construction. A request for proposals that was sent out in mid-August failed to draw a response, he said.
“I need to reach out to several of the firms and establish a relationship that we are serious about this and not going on a fishing expedition,” DeChellis said. Before the setback, design was to begin in January 2020 with construction completed hopefully in a year.
The third phase was approved in December. It involves the south side of the 210 with a continuation of the second phase from Alta Canyada Road to the bridge under Foothill Boulevard at Memorial Park; the south side of the 210 from west of Vineta Avenue to the eastbound on-ramp east of Georgian Road that overlaps part of the first phase; and the north side of the 210 from the intersection of Baptiste Way and Vineta to the Crown Avenue/Foothill westbound exit.
BROADCASTS OF COUNCIL MEETINGS CONSIDERED
In a review of the city’s policy on broadcasting City Council meetings, council members decided to defer action until they receive guidance from staff members.
Council members appeared to want to broadcast most of their meetings, but not longer study sessions or workshops.
Brown said he would be in favor of broadcasting commission meetings also.
RESIDENT URGES CITY TO REPAIR BOULEVARD
Resident David Haxton said he felt the city should immediately repair a stretch of Foothill Boulevard located near Lutheran Church in the Foothills, where he is a member.
The city on Aug. 20 filed a complaint in a Los Angeles Superior Court against the Foothill Municipal Water District, saying the wholesaler’s failure to properly maintain a water pipe under Foothill Boulevard caused the street to sink and could lead to further damage in a wet winter. Water district officials have said they can’t comment on pending litigation.
Haxton said the city was basically saying, “You broke it, you fix it” to the water district, and he didn’t understand why.
“If I were to run over a stop sign, you wouldn’t tell me go and fix it,” Haxton said. “You’d fix it and then you would send me a bill. I don’t see why you don’t fix it, send them a bill if they don’t pay, then you file a lawsuit. That dip should have been repaired over the summer when school was out.”
Officials said they could not comment because it was not placed on the agenda and there was litigation.
“We’d love to respond but we can’t,” Brown said. “There’s been a lot of work done and a lot of things you aren’t aware of. … We can’t really get into that here.”