First published in the Oct. 27 print issue of the Outlook Valley Sun.
A spike in larceny and theft incidents inflated recent crime figures in La Cañada Flintridge, which saw more offenses in September than any other month so far in 2022.
There was a total of 43 part I offenses — serious crimes such as robbery, aggravated assault, theft, burglary, sex offenses and homicide — in September, topping the month of March when there were 42 such incidents.
Twenty-six of the 43 crimes reported were larceny and theft cases, and eight of them were at the T.J. Maxx located at 663 Foothill Blvd. There were also shoplifting reports at Ralphs, Ross and Big Lots last month.
T.J. Maxx is frequently hit by shoplifters and often mentioned in the sheriff’s crime report, and City Council members have expressed concern over the continuous number of incidents at the store, which has a “hands off” policy regarding loss prevention that makes it difficult to deter thieves from stealing.
Robert Hahnlein, captain of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s station, said that he has coordinated with the store’s security team to explore ideas that could deter crime. Shoplifters tend to go for high-end items such as designer purses, and the LCF location is known to be one of the top-rated T.J. Maxx stores. Hahnlein believes the establishment can do a better job of locking up such items to make it more difficult on thieves or placing more cameras in and around the store.
“They’re trying to do different techniques,” Hahnlein told the Outlook Valley Sun on Tuesday. “The city is just concerned because they’re bringing a criminal element to the city. These thieves know they can go into T.J. Maxx and take what they want. What stops them from running to the neighborhood and maybe accosting somebody or carjacking or something like that? That’s what’s our concern and the city’s concern.”
There were also 15 burglaries reported, eight of which occurred at homes. Several restaurants located in the La Cañada Flintridge Town Center were burglarized during late hours last month.
“They were smash-and-grabs,” Hahnlein said. “They went in there to try to get the registers and try to pry open their drop boxes.”
The LCF Chamber of Commerce held an event at City Hall on Monday that was facilitated by Hahnlein and provided merchants with tips on how to better secure their businesses. The captain said that about 20 community members were present and believes it was a success.
“We had some positive feedback,” Hahnlein said. “I had a PowerPoint presentation on how to deter burglaries at businesses by moving registers, taking drawers out of the register and getting cameras set up.”
In addition to adding more patrol units throughout the city, Hahnlein said the city has been proactive and allowed him to start a commercial burglary task force.
“We’re going to send out a few deputies and a sergeant and go in the evening hours to see what we can find,” Hahnlein said. “We want to make sure business owners feel they are being protected and we are looking out for their best interests. We’ll see if we can find somebody either to infiltrate or break into their business and make some arrests.”
The sheriffs are just as concerned about the number of residential burglaries, and Hahnlein believes more can be done not just by his station but community members as well.
“I think we need to get more neighborhood watch programs and have neighbors start looking out for each other and protect their own homes,” he said. “That would really help deter burglars from their homes.”
Another concerning statistic on the updated crime statistics was the two reported rapes after having none from January-August. Hahnlein called the incidents an “unusual circumstance” that involved two minors engaging in sexual acts with each other.
“So it wasn’t rape per se where someone got overpowered and was raped,” Hahnlein said. “Because the way the law is written and [how our statistics] are generated, it turned into two rapes because they did sexual acts on each other. One was 13 and one was 14.”