By Mary O’KEEFE
Glendale Police Department (GPD) has seen a lot of success with its recently formed burglary task force.
A few weeks ago several speakers at the Glendale City Council shared their concerns for the increased number of residential burglaries occurring throughout the city. In response, police chief Manny Cid created a task force about three weeks ago. Last Wednesday, Dec. 13, CVW sat down with Cid to talk about how the task force was working.
He noted there were some speakers who spoke at the Council meeting who referred to a residential burglary as a home invasion.
“Fortunately we haven’t had anything that could technically be described as a home invasion,” he said.
A home invasion is when a person/persons enters a home without permission, usually with the use of force and/or weapons. Then the occupants are held as hostages as the suspects ransack the house.
A robbery is not the same as a burglary. A robbery is when someone takes property from victims through the use of force.
A burglary is when someone enters a property with the intent to commit a crime, like theft.
“What we are dealing with, quite frankly what the whole LA region is dealing with, is a significant increase in burglaries,” Cid said in the Dec. 13 interview.
These criminals usually enter a home by smashing windows or glass back doors. They can also gain entrance by finding doors unlocked. The suspect/suspects normally take high-end shoes, jewelry and cash.
Over the year, the GPD had seen a significant uptick in residential burglaries and then, in particular a few weeks ago, GPD saw a “real surge.” That was before the GPD created the residential burglary task force, which included having a lieutenant lead a coordinated effort using traffic and motorcycle police.
“We created a visible presence,” Cid said.
Cid added the task force also used undercover officers, some from the Narcotics and Vice units, in plain clothes and vehicles that surveyed the area. They also used air support and K9s, in addition to regular patrol officers.
The area was saturated with law enforcement and some significant decreases in burglaries were seen.
On Dec. 13, Cid said, “In the last eight to nine days we had a total of two residential burglaries, which is significantly down; we were at a clip there for a while seeing eight to 12 a week.”
But, he added, one is too many so patrolling will continue.
Information is being gathered on the suspects and hopefully there will be an arrest soon.
“What we are seeing throughout the region, and I think it is accounting for a significant portion of the residential burglaries, are South American burglary crews. They are coming up from Chile and other areas of South America with a coordinated effort to get into the country,” he said.
These crews have some level of sophistication.
“These organized burglary crews go up and do a little bit of surveillance in the neighborhoods to try to get when people are around and when they are not around,” he said. “We see that they are using some level of technology. They will enter the area with Wi-Fi jammers and it will disrupt [residents’] Wi-Fi.”
Most home surveillance cameras are powered through the Internet, so using the jamming technology gives the crews a few minutes before any alarms are tripped.
“And then they are looking for easy access,” Cid added.
This includes unlocked vehicle doors where a garage door opener is easily accessible and allows access to the property. Crews also look for easy access to backyards where they can enter the house through windows.
Cid said that despite the criminals’ use of Wi-Fi jamming technology, it is still good for residents to have some type of security cameras to help deter burglaries. If a burglary occurs, this technology can help officers with their investigation.
“Locking front and side doors, closing windows,” he said of things people can do to deter burglaries.
Good lighting is also advised and having a dog is a “tried and true” deterrent.
“But above everything else is vigilance. Be a good neighbor,” Cid said. “If you see something, say something. No call is too small.”