City's crime-prevention message to go on air, online

The city of La Cañada Flintridge and the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department have teamed up to produce a public service announcement to educate residents about how to protect themselves from burglary.

In the production, commissioned by the Public Safety Commission and due out next month, Deputy Eric Matejka gives viewers a look inside the mind of a burglar, sharing information about how they operate and what they’re looking for when they case neighborhoods in search of a target.

He urges neighbors to report any suspicious activity to the sheriff’s department.

“We really want people to report things that are suspicious or unusual, because then there are a lot more eyes out there,” Matejka said Monday. “Give us a call, and we’ll go out and talk to these people.”

That message couldn’t come at a better time. In July alone, there were 10 residential burglaries in La Cañada, along with three other burglaries and eight incidents of theft, according to Sheriff’s Lt. Elisabeth Sachs of the Crescenta Valley station.

Sachs delivered those statistics Monday to City Council in a public safety presentation. There, she said police made five arrests after a neighbor called to report suspicious activity at a nearby residence.

“It was the result of neighbors watching out for neighbors,” Sachs told the council.

The antiburglary video isn’t the first of its kind. The Public Safety Commission created a similar public service announcement starring Matejka in September 2012.

That production, shot with a hand-held camera, was aired on Government Access Television and posted to YouTube, according to Peter Castro, the city’s senior management analyst who worked on it.

The new video will be professionally produced, thanks to some funding from the commission and the involvement of Tustin-based communications firm Tripepi Smith and Associates, which has been working with the city to streamline its communication with residents and create a social media presence.

“[The Public Safety Commission] liked the production but they really wanted to go back and make a more robust PSA that would be better received,” Castro said. “Now, with social media, we’ll be able to reach more people much faster.”

Ryder Todd Smith, president and co-founder of Tripepi Smith and Associates, said the video will go on the city’s website, its YouTube channel and will be made into DVDs for neighborhood watch groups.

“Burglary is often a crime of opportunity, so a well-educated community that understands the risk and the easy steps to remove the opportunity should see a reduction in crimes,” Smith said in an email interview. “Awareness and understanding is key, and video is a great way to convey a lot of information in just five minutes.”

Matejka said he hopes people will watch the video, share it with others and ultimately reduce crime.

“I’m hoping word of mouth gets it out there,” he said.

For more information on the antiburglary PSA, call Peter Castro at (818) 790-8880. To learn more about forming a neighborhood watch, call Deputy Eric Matejka at (818) 248-3464. The city’s website is

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