Although crime rates in LAPD's Newton Division are still down 8.6 percent compared to last year, last week saw an uptick in chain snatches and a continuing trend of burglary from motor vehicles, said Capt. Jorge Rodriguez.
He said that as the price of gold continues to increase, there has been a growing number of robberies in which people have had necklaces stolen off of their necks. Residents walking and holding smart phones are also at risk, said Rodriguez. He added that even if the phone is in your pocket, if you are listening to music on your phone thieves may recognize the tell-tale headphones.
“We have opportunists -- that when given an opportunity they will strike,” he said.
In total, there was 17 robberies last week where "force or fear" was used to steal personal items. The police captain recommends being acutely aware of your surroundings and not wearing gold jewelery in public.
There were no murders in Newton last week but there were two shootings, and one person was hit. Rodriguez said they were gang-related and that the police are looking into their relationship to an on-going rivalry between a Newton gang and one in Compton.
There was a total of 84 crimes in the area last week and 24 of them were burglary from cars. This is an ongoing issue for Newton -- the "Achilles heel" of the area, said Rodriguez. As a result, community and police organizations have launched a variety of slogans and campaigns to raise awareness on the issue. In addition to the "Lock it, hide it, keep it" motto, the department recently enacted a flyer system that puts information booklets (that look exactly like parking tickets) on car windows where valuables are left in plain sight.
“The biggest problem is people leaving their belongings out in the open,” said the police captain.
Of the more than 24 burglaries, 14 involved smashed windows and 10 were forced entry -- suspects using tools to pick locks or open doors to gain access to the car. Most of these incidents occurred on the north end of Newton, north of the 10 freeway between Hooper Avenue and Alameda Street. Rodriguez said the area has a lot transient activity and that half of the crimes occurred between midnight and 6 a.m.; most likely because residents had left belongings in their car overnight.