Alarmed by crime spike, local residents take action

| December 30, 2021 | 0 Comments

SHOCKING and well-publicized incident on Fuller Avenue, which involved armed suspects disguised as law enforcement agents who forced entry to a home and robbed the resident, was never reported to the police, Capt. Otero told the HPHA.

A number of recent high-profile crimes in Greater Wilshire have left local residents feeling alarmed.

The Hancock Park Homeowners Association (HPHA) hosted a virtual “Security Town Hall” Dec. 6 to discuss the recent crime and security issues.

In November, the Los Angeles Police Department’s Wilshire Division responded to three street robberies and one attempted car-jacking within the borders of Hancock Park, Capt. Anthony Otero told town hall participants. That includes the well-publicized Nov. 28 robbery that involved a woman pushing a stroller who was followed home and robbed inside her hedged driveway on Rimpau Boulevard.

“I know it’s alarming to witness in your neighborhood what you’re seeing,” said Capt. Otero. “I assure you, we are looking at different ways to combat this.”

Otero said that the Greater Wilshire area has seen an extreme increase in robberies in recent weeks. Suspects are driving vehicles around, with up to three people in the car, looking for targets, he explained.

Jerry Shaw and Terry Segraves, founders of SSA, a private security company, and Mike Ball of ADT Security also offered advice and suggestions to residents. Private security professionals and the police agreed that video footage of crimes greatly assists in efforts to track down and apprehend the criminals.

Following the meeting, HPHA president Cindy Chvatal told us that the town hall was popular with her members.

“It was a successful event, with more than 100 people participating. Residents were appreciative to hear from their local police. They are aware of the increase in incidents, and they want to be proactive,” said Chvatal.

Among the many things that were discussed, Chvatal says that her members are eager to monitor the impact that a camera program on Melrose Avenue will have on crime in the area. “Residents are very interested in what Melrose Action is doing,” said Chvatal.

ROBBERS target mother with her baby in Hancock Park. Getaway car is upper left.

Melrose Action

  Last month, a community group dedicated to public safety around the Melrose business district celebrated the installation of automatic license plate recognition (ALPR) cameras. The group’s leaders hope the program will push back on an increase in crime in the area.

The group, which calls itself Melrose Action, started the resident-led process last August with a fundraising campaign. To date, more than $32,000 has been raised from private donations and Councilmember Paul Koretz’s office to support the project.

The cameras, placed in anonymous locations, will capture video footage of the license plate numbers of vehicles driving on Melrose.

Crime stats

With several high-profile incidents on everyone’s mind, residents understandably assume crime is up across the board, but the numbers paint a more complicated picture.

The Chronicle contacted LAPD Wilshire Division Capt. Sonia Monico to help us dig down into the statistics.

Monico ran the numbers, comparing figures from November 2021 with November 2020, looking at only the areas that both correspond with the borders of Wilshire Division and the Chronicle’s distribution area, broadly speaking: Melrose to Olympic, and Fairfax to Plymouth (the eastern boundary of the LAPD Wilshire Division, whereas the Chronicle is distributed as far east as Western Avenue).

Would it surprise you to learn that property crime is down? In fact, burglaries were down 18 percent this November compared to November 2020. That’s the good news.

The bad: robberies and assaults were up big, 58 percent and 75 percent, respectively.

These local figures seem to reflect the alarming increase of violent crimes citywide. In November, LAPD Chief Michel Moore set up a Follow Home Task Force to specifically address the growing trend.

Capt. Monico advises residents to be extra aware of your surroundings, and, if you’re approached by suspects: “Do not resist,” she warns.

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