Police turn up heat on burglars

Police have stepped up their presence along the city’s freeways in an attempt to send a warning to an organized group of South Los Angeles-based burglars who have been targeting homes in affluent neighborhoods.

The Police Department has set up electronic signs along major freeway exits advising the public to notify authorities if they see any suspicious activity following the recent rash of home burglaries in east, west and north Glendale.

Officers also are heavily patrolling neighborhoods near the freeways, which detectives say the thieves have been favoring for an easy escape.

Along with the increased police presence, officers are reaching out to residents for additional support.

“We are telling the community what characters to look for,” Glendale Police Chief Ron De Pompa said at staff meeting Wednesday.

Police reminded dozens of residents at a neighborhood watch group Thursday in Sparr Heights how to protect themselves from being burglarized. Residents should always acknowledge that they are home when someone knocks at their door, and should secure any potential entry points, police said.

“Don’t ever try to capture the burglar yourself,” Community Lead Officer Matt Zakarian told residents.

Glendale Police Dispatcher Greg Corrigan advised residents to call authorities if they get strong feeling something is amiss.

“If you get that [feeling], trust that and call police,” he said.

Most of the recent home burglary arrests occurred after residents heard or saw something suspicious and called police, officials said.

Police have linked the burglaries to an organized criminal group made up of South Los Angeles gangs whose members are breaking into upscale homes in Glendale and the San Fernando Valley.

Police said thieves appear to be selecting homes that are somewhat shielded from the public right-of-way. The burglaries typically occur between 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on week days.

Glendale residents have reported losses of gold, jewelry, weapons and, at one house, $15,000 in cash, police said.

Some burglars have been nicely dressed to blend into the neighborhoods and have even gone so far as to rent luxury cars.

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