Tourist car bur­glar­ies linked to Bay Area gangs

Antelope Valley Press - - OPINION -

LOS AN­GE­LES (AP) — A surge of thefts from ve­hi­cles parked at tourist lo­ca­tions on the West side of Los An­ge­les has been linked to San Francisco Bay Area gang mem­bers, au­thor­i­ties say.

The Los An­ge­les and Bev­erly Hills po­lice de­part­ments and the Los An­ge­les County Sher­iff’s Depart­ment are try­ing to stem the out­break that be­gan last year, the Los An­ge­les Times re­ported Mon­day.

“It was our No. 1 crime trend in West Bureau in 2019,” LAPD Cmdr. Cory Palka told the news­pa­per.

The Bay Area thieves use rental cars to travel sev­eral hun­dred miles to South­ern Cal­i­for­nia, where they tar­get tourists’ cars at shop­ping cen­ters, mu­se­ums and sim­i­lar spots.

The burglary crews pri­mar­ily come from San Francisco, Oak­land and Con­tra Costa County cities in­clud­ing An­ti­och and Pitts­burg.

Their move south fol­lows an ex­ten­sive theft prob­lem in the Bay Area that led res­i­dents and busi­nesses there to in­crease se­cu­rity, said Lt. Matt Stone­braker of the po­lice depart­ment in Rich­mond, north­east of San Francisco.

“This has also caused them to hit the road to lo­ca­tions where they can have anonymity in other ju­ris­dic­tions,” Stone­braker said.

De­tec­tive Brent Hop­kins of the LAPD’s Wil­shire Divi­sion calls it “tourist sus­pects tar­get­ing tourist vic­tims.”

The divi­sion cov­ers an area with very pop­u­lar up­scale shop­ping cen­ters, mu­se­ums and the fa­mous Orig­i­nal Farm­ers mar­ket. It recorded 1,968 car bur­glar­ies in 2019, an in­crease of 29% from 2018 and 37% from 2017.

Hop­kins at­trib­uted much of the jump to Bay Area gangs. Po­lice can urge peo­ple to not leave valu­ables in cars.

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