LAPD makes zombie video to fight car burglaries

Move over, "Walking Dead." In a quest to take a bite out of crime, the LAPD's Northeast Division has produced a new video, starring -- what else? -- zombies.

Cue a seven-minute homemade mini-movie of zombies marauding down a northeast Los Angeles street. The moaning zombies steal iPads and other items from parked cars in the videotaped public service announcement.

Cut to a couple in their living room. "Chad, the zombies are out again," a woman tells a man reading a book, who acts matter-of-fact until the conversation turns to his car.

The nervous man yells to call 911, making a face like Shaggy in a Scooby-Doo cartoon before yelling about his baby -- an apparent reference to his tablet or computer.

By now, four zombies are smashing car windows to grab computers and tablets left on car seats in plain sight.

A couple of LAPD officers roll up in a black-and-white. Stepping out of the cruiser, one declares, “Awesome, zombies!”

The officer then reappears with an item from the cruiser's rear. “I’ve got the chainsaw, partner,” he says.

The campy video concludes with an image of a zombie's arm lying in the street before Capt. Jeffrey Bert takes a few seconds to get serious.

"Year to date, 21,000 vehicles have been burglarized in the city of Los Angeles,” he warns, adding that that amounts to more than 400 a week. "You need to hide your valuables ... if you are a pirate, your bag of jewels."

In the shadow of Hollywood, the Northeast Division covers an area that includes Silver Lake, Highland Park, Eagle Rock and Mount Washington.

“Actually, we were just trying to reach people," Bert said Monday. "My captain’s video on what crime is up or down registered 57 hits. In four days, this has recorded 2,600 hits and growing.”

“We said, 'Let's look at what pop culture does,' " Bert said. "Twenty million people watch 'Walking Dead.' Well, zombies work, and we decided to keep it pretty G-rated.”

Bert said a small army of volunteers and division officers came up with “Invasion of the Zombie Bandits.”

“It was a lot of donations. It helps when you have so many Hollywood people around,” Bert said.

One of Bert’s officers is also a Hollywood makeup artist, he says. And that made the zombies easy to create.

His adjutant, Officer Curtis Davis, is a screenwriter. Davis' day job is partly to track crime across the division.

“He wrote the script and came up with ideas to make it a G-rated comic style,” Bert said.  “I am not sure what people think about it. But people are checking it out."

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richard.winton@latimes.com