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Newsletter: Beware of porch pirates

A man steals a package filled with dog droppings in Lodi.
A man steals a package filled with dog droppings in Lodi.
(Lodi Police Department via Fox40)

Good morning. It is Saturday, Dec. 24. Here’s what you don’t want to miss this holiday weekend:

TOP STORIES

Holiday menace: Police say that in an era of heightened security at stores and shopping centers, porch pirating has become one of the easiest forms of petty theft. They operate in the middle of the day, when many residents are at work and the delivery vans are making their rounds. They tend to follow FedEx, UPS and U.S. mail workers down streets, on the lookout for packages they can nab. Some even dress in uniforms to avoid suspicion. It’s the dark side of all those holiday Amazon orders. Los Angeles Times

Jail scandal: Federal prosecutors had little trouble winning conviction of lower-level officials in the Los Angeles County jail corruption scandal. But when it came time to target former Sheriff Lee Baca, things suddenly got much more complicated. Los Angeles Times

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Do you hear me now? JBL speakers will be used to swear in Donald Trump, just as they were at President Obama’s two inaugurations. A look inside the famed San Fernando Valley audio company. Los Angeles Times

Traffic jam: The holiday nightmare that is Los Angeles International Airport only got worse Friday with more delayed flights and huge lines. Los Angeles Times

Could it be? Is this a sign the San Diego Chargers are moving to Los Angeles? Orange County Register

Pricey education: The most expensive college in America? This survey says Harvey Mudd in Claremont, which charges nearly $70,000 a year. Three other California colleges made the Top 10 list. CNN Money

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Brought to you by Facebook: Inside Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg’s new primary school in East Palo Alto, which mixes healthcare and education. Mercury News

Border patrol: Arrests of those trying to cross into California illegally continue to plummet. Sacramento Bee

On the tracks: A breathtaking journey by rail through a wet and snowy Northern California. The California Zephyr from the Bay Area to Truckee, in words and images. New York Times

Medical emergency: Actress and famed Hollywood memorialist Carrie Fisher suffered a cardiac episode on a plane from London to Los Angeles. Los Angeles Times

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Dog’s life: A classic quote about L.A. real estate in 2016: “Downtown is the junkyard dog saying give it to me. The Westside is the poodle that’s had enough.” Los Angeles Times

THIS WEEK’S MOST POPULAR STORIES IN ESSENTIAL CALIFORNIA

1. Deck the halls: Inside a crazy Christmas light display at a Sherman Oaks house. Curbed Los Angeles

2. Wrong turn: A flight controller accidentally sent a plane out of LAX toward Mt. Wilson. Los Angeles Times

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3. Warning signs: Big flops. Waning studio profits. What Hollywood’s record box office doesn’t tell you. Los Angeles Times

4. Mr. Gold was here first: The joy of L.A.’s strip mall restaurants. New York Times

5. Investigation: OxyContin goes global. “We’re only just getting started.” Los Angeles Times

ICYMI, HERE ARE THIS WEEK’S GREAT READS

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A question of integrity: Police agencies across California have declared war on sex trafficking. But what happens when a police officer is accused of trying to exploit the illicit sex trade the department wants to stamp out? Long Beach police are now struggling with this question. Los Angeles Times

Nothing up his sleeves: Silicon Valley’s favorite magician is considered something of a legend in the super-driven, always-at-work tech culture. “I said, ‘If you hire me, I’ll make sure every Friday afternoon at the office is a little bit fun,’” Dan Chan recalled. “I was like the company glue, besides the ping pong table, the free buffet and the free vending machine.” BuzzFeed News

Small world: For 32 years, this man has been driving the fire engine at Disneyland’s Main Street. “It’s no worse than the freeways. I probably drive faster here than on the freeways.” Orange County Register

“I’m listening to the radio police-scanner app on my new phone. My hands sweat as the calls come through. ‘Potential B and E in Westwood.’ ‘Carjacking in progress at the corner of Hollywood and Western.’ ‘Group of black teens playing in the park.’”

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– From “The Future Mayor of Los Angeles Is Currently on Adderall,” a title that perfectly describes this essay in the Los Angeles Review of Books.

LOOKING AHEAD

Sunday: Celebrities and others will serve a Christmas brunch at the Midnight Mission to those in need; archbishop José Gomez holds a Christmas Mass for L.A. jail inmates.

Monday: Workers keep adding those flowers to the Rose Parade floats in Irwindale, through the week.

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Saturday: Grand Park New Year’s Eve celebration in downtown L.A.

Please let us know what we can do to make this newsletter more useful to you. Send comments, complaints and ideas to Shelby Grad.


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