Rash of Local Grand Auto Thefts

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In late February, the Wilshire Division of the LAPD responded to an increased number of grand theft auto incidents in its southern region, which is roughly bounded by Fairfax Avenue and West Boulevard to the west and east and Pico Boulevard and the 10 Freeway to the north and south.
In an effort to encourage vigilance among community members, auto theft detective Wesley Lin spoke with The Neighborhood News about the crimes and how locals can help. 


According to Lin, the Wilshire Division was monitoring a slight uptick in car break-ins in the area when a rising number of grand theft auto crimes began occuring. A clear pattern emerged — the majority of the thefts were Ford Econoline vans, many of which were filled with the owner’s work tools.

“These are vehicles owned by hard-working people — plumbers, carpenters — who leave a ton of equipment in their vehicles,” Lin said. “The thieves know that they if they take a van, it’s likely they’ll find a lot of hand and power tools inside.”

Lin and his colleagues believe that the actual theft of each vehicle is completed by one group of criminals, who then drive the car to a given site. Then a second crew unloads the van of its contents, and a third crew takes the tools to a swap meet to sell for use or for scrap metal.

“The sooner we can get this information out there, the more we can impact the community,” Lin said. Below are the detective’s auto security tips for community members.

1. Park your car in the garage.

Leaving your car in a protected garage, especially if you must store valuables inside, is the safest way to protect the vehicle and its contents.

2. Park in a well-lit space. Since much of the community is apartment buildings, off-street parking may be hard to come by. If you must park your car on the road, try to find a well-lit spot and do not leave things inside the vehicle.

3. Consider added security. Having multiple layers of security, such as an alarm and a club, is a good way to stave off trouble. Keep in mind, though, that these defenses can still be tackled by a professional group of thieves.

4. Be vigilant, call 911.

“I understand that there’s a reluctance to call 911 — we tend to rationalize unusual behavior — but if it’s three in the morning and there’s someone in your neighborhood that you don’t recognize, by all means, call,” Lin said. “We want patrol officers to talk to that person. There are very few reasons that your average, law-abiding citizen is on the street at that time. If you feel something’s unusual, call us — it’s your tax dollars at work. And the more tips we generate, the more leads we can pursue and the more likely someone goes to jail.”
 
Photo courtesy of ThinkstockPhotos

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Established in August of 2008 by writerartist Dianne V. Lawrence, The Neighborhood News covers the events, people, history, politics and historic architecture of communities throughout the Mid-City and West Adams area in Los Angeles Council District 10.

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