Crescenta Valley Sheriff's detectives are warning residents to be aware of people posing as city workers or gardeners.
The warning stems from an attempted burglary that occurred at 11:28 a.m. on Aug. 13 in the 4700 block of Commonwealth Avenue. According to Det. Frank Diana, the alarm was activated at the home when two suspects attempted to enter it. They were foiled because the homeowners had installed a sophisticated alarm system that includes cameras placed throughout the property.
The surveillance camera caught the action as a silver minivan drove up to the home. The first suspect, dressed in an orange vest, got out of the vehicle and walked toward the residence.
“He looks like he could be a city worker or a gardener,” Diana said. “Nothing to cause anyone to notice him.”
The man had a hat covering most of his face and a large neck brace on. He walked up to the front door, rang the bell and knocked several times. When there was no answer he went around to the back of the home. At this point the same silver vehicle dropped off the second suspect. This man was dressed in a white shirt and also wore a hat that covered most of his face. Both suspects kept their heads turned down away from the camera.
Another point of view showed the suspects jumping over a back fence and walking toward the home. They apparently cut a window screen and opened a back window, which set off the alarm. Meanwhile, the silver van continued to drive up and down Commonwealth.
The suspects ran away from the home and into the waiting vehicle.
Diana said that the homeowners had done everything they could to keep their property safe.
“They had an alarm and turned it on,” Diana said.
He added that the public should be aware of who is in their neighborhood. He also want residents to call the sheriff's station at (818) 248-3464 if they see anything suspicious.
That sentiment is echoed by another La Cañada resident who recently had a frightening experience that made her realize that her city is not immune to crime.
The woman, who wished to remain anonymous, said she wanted to share her story because so many people she knows in the community continue to believe that they are immune from the influences of crime.
“We do not live in a bubble,” she said.
Her story began with a birthday gift of a very large and very brilliant diamond ring.
“I had gotten this just a few days ago and I was on my way to my hair dresser,” she told a reporter. “I wanted to show it to her.”
The woman was early for her appointment so she decided to go into Ross Dress For Less in 2100 block Foothill Boulevard.
“I didn't think about having the ring on, I was just going to run in there for a minute to look at [curtain rods],” she said.
As she entered the store she noticed two men watching her. She was leaning down to look at something in one of the store's display cases when she heard one of the men comment on her ring.
“They said, 'did you see the size of that rock?'”
This made her nervous but the men then walked past her toward clothing and she went to the housewares section.
“As I was walking to the end of the aisle I noticed them,” she said.
The two men now appeared to be waiting at the end of the aisle. The woman had just finished reading the book “The Gift of Fear” by Gavin De Becker.
“I had read it for the second time,” she said.
The book's foundation is to trust your instincts and that when you feel fear there is more than likely a real reason, she said.
She walked up to the front of the store and the men seemed to follow her. She waited at the door; they walked out and went to their vehicle.
“I didn't want to leave, so I just stayed in the store and watched them,” she said.
Thursday was a hot day, with temperatures near 90 degrees yet the men sat in their vehicle for over 15 minutes.
“I was afraid to go out to my car. I had a feeling they would mug me or follow me. I just had that feeling,” she said.
Earlier that day she had stopped by City Hall on business and just happened to pick up the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station sticker that listed the station's emergency number for cellular phones.
“I tried calling that number but my cellphone didn't work so I asked the manager at Ross if I could use their phone.”
By the time deputies arrived the men had been sitting in their vehicle for over half an hour. While one deputy stayed with the woman, another drove up behind the men, who then drove out of the parking lot.
According to a sheriff's spokeswoman, the deputy followed the men as they drove through La Cañada until they entered the Foothill (210) Freeway at Angeles Crest.
A deputy then escorted the woman to her vehicle and she drove home.
The woman said she is certain that the outcome could have been much worse if she didn't trust her instinct. She wants to warn those in the community to always be aware of their surroundings.
“I wasn't raised with a lot of money and I appreciate everything I have,” she said. “I understand that we live in La Cañada and were safe, but how many purses have to be stolen out of unlocked cars at the YMCA before people realize we have to be aware?”
She still believes La Cañada is a safe community and praises the sheriff deputies for responding to her call so promptly and for taking her concerns seriously. But she warns others not to get too comfortable.
“Lock your doors and set your alarms,” she said. “Read 'The Gift of Fear' and trust your instincts. I know I still have my ring because I did.”