Monday, October 1, 2012

Residential burglars in the city of Cerritos on the rise

When a visitor is at the door, life is put on hold for a few seconds. For some it may just be a Jehovah’s Witness leaving a The Watch Tower Magazine at their doorstep or a UPS worker leaving a shipment form behind. However, some may encounter a far greater distraction when a residential burglar attempts to methodically break into their home.

According to the Cerritos Sheriff’s Station, some Cerritos residents have encountered scammers in the recent weeks who pretend to either trim trees, check for gas leaks or water leaks in order to prey on vulnerable households.

Cerritos has the highest number of home burglaries in the Los Angeles County, said 24-year-old Cal State Dominguez Hills pre-law major and Cerritos resident Raffi Norberg.

“My neighbors right across the street got hit, and basically everything was taken by the burglars,” said Norberg.

The home invaders strategically plan their way into houses. A man in a blue shirt and khaki uniform knocks at the door and attempts to talk himself into the homeowner’s backyard. Meanwhile, the driver of his van is waiting for access to the resident’s front door. The main man claims he is contracted by the city of Cerritos. However, the city claims it does not hire personnel to perform such inspections.

Norberg said that he has created a sort of theory, in which the watchdogs of the city aren’t only limited to the Sherriff’s department and residents, but the workers as well.

“One of the reasons is probably because we hire gardeners to cut our grass, so they see who’s home and not. Then they sell the information to gangs who then carry out the crime.”

“Since a large population of Cerritos residents are old and have lots of savings, which they like to keep at home rather than a bank since they are from an older generation, they are easy targets,” he added.

According to 23-year-old Cerritos resident Lawrence Ervin, burglars have visited in his neighborhood's cul-de-sac.

“The burglars slit the window and took guitars, Xbox game console, camera and other valuables from my home,” said Ervin.

“I got a toolbox jacked from my garage, too,” he added.

The Safer Cerritos website, among other city of Cerritos websites lists a residential burglar scam post from an incident on Sept. 25. The breaking news post describes the main suspect as Hispanic or Eastern European in his early 40s with black hair and brown eyes at a 5’5” and 150 pounds stature and build.

The city's Community Safety Division reported an increase of vehicle thefts and burglaries in Cerritos and surrounding cities in recent months. 

L.A. Times lists the L.A. County Sherriff’s weekly crimes reported in its cities. Cerritos had 30 reported crimes from Sept. 20 to Sept. 26, which include all burglaries and thefts with the exception of one aggravated assault.

Cerritos ranks at a higher rate in property crimes over violent crimes as compared with surrounding cities, which include Artesia, La Mirada and Lakewood, among others. There are 195.5 crimes for every 10,000 people and 953 property crimes and 55 violent crimes within the last six months. Out of the 953 property crimes, 18.9 percent are burglary related and 45.2 percent are theft related.

However, burglary and theft can be prevented. Neighborhood Watch signs are posted around all neighborhoods in an effort to "protect property and ensure safe neighborhoods, according to its website. However, each resident should be in charge of letting potential burglars know they are aware of their surroundings.

An unlocked or opened door resulted in 22  of the 38 residential burglaries from last August. There are an average of 4.7 home robberies each week in 2012.

Norberg said that he and his family have taken preventative efforts with their locked doors, dogs and overall vigilance.

“Maybe people need to learn to cut their own grass,” he said.

If you hear a motor running, dogs barking or other suspicious sounds, make it known you are aware of them by checking outside with precaution or by calling the Cerritos Sherriff’s Station at (562) 860-0044. To join or start a Neighborhood Watch group, call the Community Safety Division at (562) 916-1266.

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