Police reinforced the need for community involvement Tuesday night to dozens of residents following a spate of vehicle thefts in the South Glendale area.
The spike in vehicle thefts was partly due to residents leaving their keys inside the ignition while they run inside their homes for a few seconds, said the area's lieutenant, Todd Anderson.
While police arrested two men who allegedly were responsible for some of the thefts, police still warned residents at a town hall meeting at the retirement community, Windsor Manor, to protect their belongings and to be vigilant.
“If it doesn't look right, it's probably not right,” Anderson said.
Thefts of equipment inside work vans were another crime trend, which he said has continued to be an issue in Glendale and the neighboring cities of Los Angeles, Burbank and Pasadena for more than a year.
Curbing the thefts has been challenging for police because they haven't identified any specific patterns for the crime, Anderson said.
Soon after burglarizing the work vans, he said, thieves immediately sell any valuables for quick cash. He advised residents to safely store any work vans.
“We are trying to get our arms wrapped around it,” he said. “We have talked about it every single week, and they are getting the best of us on this one.”
Still, Anderson encouraged residents to continue to attend police meetings and report violations.
“We can't do this without you folks making a phone call to the Police Department,” he told residents. “If you see suspicious characters around your neighborhood, don't wait for the crime to occur. You folks know your neighborhood.”
Police established phone trees, which allow officers to call or email neighborhood representatives with important updates and notices about crime in their area.
Area officers have been trying to organize residents to create neighborhood watch groups, Community Lead Officer Tino Saloomen said.
“It's really important to have everyone on the same team,” he told residents. “We are trying to make the community safe and place where you are happy to call home without you getting involved it's very difficult for us to do that.”
For resident Mary Baldwin, the town hall meeting just proved the community must be proactive in public safety matters in their neighborhoods, she said.
Baldwin and members of her neighborhood group, Adams Hill Homeowner's Assn., have recently stepped up their disaster preparedness and passed out hand-held, two-way radios to neighborhood captains throughout the area, she said.
“There are not enough officers and firefighters out there to cover everyone,” she said.