“It is bad enough when criminals burglarize our empty homes and take our property.”
That’s the somewhat awkwardly phrased beginning of a message that the Northeast Area LAPD posted Tuesday on its Facebook page, alluding to situations in which homes are burgled while their owners are away (as opposed to the homes being “empty,” as might be the case when property owners have yet to take up residence in their homes).
The rest of the message, however, cuts straight to the chase by pointing out how much more traumatic it is for homeowners—or, indeed, renters—when they encounter criminals face-to-face:
Criminals sometimes use force to break through a door, but often, they use a scam to get us to open the door for them—bypassing our deadbolts and security systems in the process. The LAPD wants to make the community aware of this problem and provide tips to avoid becoming a victim.
First, look before unlocking your door's deadbolt lock. Install a peephole if your door does not have one. Remember, you do not need to unlock the door to talk. They may state there is an emergency, so help them by calling police. If they attempt to force entry or make you fear for your safety, tell the police. The 911 operator will send a Code 3 response.
Besides the front door, make sure the perimeter of your home is secure. Criminals can easily enter through an open window on the ground floor or, with a ladder, on an upper floor. Make sure your windows are secured in a closed or partially open position.
Another suggestion is to take a picture or video of anyone uninvited who approaches your home. Video surveillance cameras are becoming more affordable, but cameras in modern smartphones are always ready to capture potential evidence. If you discover later that a neighbor was burglarized, you may have a photograph of the suspect.
Criminals also have easy access to official looking uniforms and business cards. They may pose as a government worker or delivery person. If you have any doubt, call and verify before opening the door. If they have legitimate business, they will not mind waiting. Be alert for distraction scams whenever you open your home to strangers.
According to the Los Angeles Times Crime Mapping Project, 12 property crimes, the vast majority of them vehicle thefts and vehicle burglaries, occurred in the 90041 zip code encompassing most of Eagle Rock from February 9 through February 15. (Further, according to the Times’ crime database, Eagle Rock averaged 12.5 property crimes per week over the past three months—compared to just below 1 percent of violent crimes per week.)
There was just one burglary in a structure during the February 9-15 period—on the block of 2700 Colorado Boulevard on February 13—compared to as many as seven home burglaries in Highland Park.