Task force targets home burglars

Conan Nolan and Dave Douglass
NBC4
Apr 6, 2012

Police in Los Angeles and Glendale have formed a new joint task force to go after an alarming spike of burglaries in wealthy neighborhoods, including parts of the San Fernando Valley and L.A.s Westside.

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In the past three days, 13 suspects have been taken into custody, three of whom were apprehended Tuesday following a pursuit in Glendale that locked down nearby businesses, including a day care, and forced residents indoors.

Investigators said many of the suspects are parolees.

Police said the surge in break-ins started in late November 2011, and among the communities hit hardest are Studio City, Sherman Oaks, Encino, Woodland Hills, Pacific Palisades, Bel Air, Playa Vista and Brentwood.

"We've identified that there are at least six different types or crews or associations that are actually offending and committing burglaries," said LAPD Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas.

Police think early inmate release programs are contributing to the problem.

Many of the cases involve so-called "knock-knock" burglaries. The suspect will knock on the front door of a home, then if there's no answer, go to the back and break a window.

"Once they're inside, they're taking gold, jewelry, anything of value, electronics," Villegas said. "They're also taking firearms when they see them.”

The items are often quickly sold at pawn shops or swap meets.

"The (burglars) keep looking for neighborhoods that are quiet, that it looks like they're going to blend in," said L.A. City Councilman Mitch Englander.

"They go up and door-knock it," Englander said. "If they don't hear anybody is home, chances are somebody is not home.

"So if you don't want to answer the door, don't answer the door. But let them know you're home. Just let them know you're not going to answer the door, and then make sure you report it."