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Rash of home break-ins, weekend armed robbery in LCF prompt sheriff’s response

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As of Wednesday, LCF’s December total residential burglaries stood at 10, plus an armed robbery that took place on the 1700 block of Earlmont Avenue midday Saturday.
(Jessica Martinez)

Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station officials are upping their game in response to a surge of residential burglaries — including seven that took place in an eight-day period — that hasn’t been seen in La Cañada Flintridge since last January.

Crime reports indicate three residential and one commercial burglary took place on Dec. 1. As of Wednesday, the city’s December total stood at 10, plus an armed robbery that took place on the 1700 block of Earlmont Avenue midday Saturday.

Station Capt. Chris Blasnek said Monday detectives are investigating the robbery, which occurred when two guests pulled into the driveway of an Earlmont home shortly after 12:30 p.m. and were approached by two Latino men driving an orange-colored late model Dodge Ram pickup truck that had paper plates.

The sheriff’s report stated the victims were getting out of their vehicle when they were approached by the two suspects, appearing to be in their 20s and about 5 feet 7 to 5 feet 10. While demanding their wallets and money, one of the men pointed a handgun at the male victim and the other aimed his gun at the female victim.

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Among the items taken were two cellphones, one man’s wallet and about $100 cash, according to the report.

“Deputies canvassed the area for the suspects but didn’t come up with anything,” Blasnek said, adding detectives are hopeful descriptions of the men and the vehicle might lead to their identification.

“I guarantee you we will catch these guys — they were pretty brazen,” the captain said, adding suspects matching that description also committed similar hold-ups in Burbank and Highland Park at around the same time period.

Blasnek said detectives are investigating the incidents and looking for information that might connect La Cañada burglaries to incidents in other cities. At a meeting Tuesday of the La Cañada Flintridge City Council, he confirmed a suspect in a Sept. 20 burglary on the 1100 block of Sheraton Drive had been arrested in Culver City and found in possession of items stolen from that home.

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Henry Rodriguez, 33, of Culver City was arrested by police there during a traffic stop and found in possession of stolen items, Blasnek said. Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station detective Sgt. Alan Chu executed a search warrant last week and recovered additional items.

Chu said Tuesday he’s working to determine whether Rodriguez’s possession of the items can be tied to participation in the burglary.

“We’re working with other agencies to see if there are any similarities,” he said. “A lot of it is comparing notes and seeing what we can extract from them — it’s mostly good, old-fashioned police work.”

Meanwhile, with assistance from the Sheriff’s Burglary-Robbery Task Force, the CV Station is employing undercover assistance, parking decoy vehicles in town and is considering mounted patrols on the city’s trails.

“We’re not going to wait, we’re going to hit it hard right away,” the captain assured in an interview. “We’ve doubled our units again and we are going to be very visible — I really believe high visibility may thwart any future break-ins.”

Wes Seastrom, chair of the city Public Safety Commission, said he has confidence in Blasnek’s response to the recent uptick in burglaries, but wants residents to stay vigilant by safeguarding their homes and property and participating in neighborhood watch groups.

“You need to watch out for your neighbors and watch out for yourself,” he said. “Don’t make yourself a target.”

sara.cardine@latimes.com

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Twitter: @SaraCardine


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