Piece of Mind: Burglars have been running afoul this month

A word to our wise La Cañada Flintridge citizens: Keep your doors and windows locked, your eyes open and your valuables well hidden. Burglars are invading our turf, and they've been particularly active this month.

Of course, that's nothing new. We've seen spikes in our crime statistics before. Most recently, there was some cause for alarm in November, when we had numerous break-ins. In January, burglars struck six times in La Cañada. But that's six times in 31 days — not really an awful record, as painful as it must have been for the victims.

The first day of February launched a whole new month of possibilities for the bad guys, and La Cañada Flintridge homes were hit four times, with criminals getting an early 6:45 a.m. start at one of them.

Two of the houses burglarized were across the street from each other, on Catherwood Drive. Another was on Burning Tree Drive, adjacent to the country club's fairways. The fourth was on Stardust Road. So, that particular day's crime wave skewed to the northeast part of town.

I learned all this when I called Capt. Dave Silversparre, commander of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff's Station, on Wednesday. I was nosing around, trying to track down some crime news, because the usual reports made available to the local newspapers haven't been at the station's front counter on a regular basis in recent weeks. Silversparre is looking into that for us, and I trust him when he says we'll see improvement on that front. But he also tossed me a bone, giving me the lowdown on the recent break-ins.

If you're an armchair detective, you might be interested to know that the entry points for three of the Feb. 1 burglaries were at the rear of houses; a side entry was used at one home. Missing items include jewelry, a computer, cameras and other electronic equipment. One house lost a safe that contained coins and jewels. One of the homes was ransacked, Silversparre told me, but two documents used for identification purposes were the only items reported stolen there.

Silversparre, echoing what he says so often during his oral reports before the City Council, told me his team needs the public's help in reducing crime. “We need people to call us if they see anything going on in their neighborhoods,” he said.

Further, he urges residents to consider forming neighborhood watch groups on their streets. If you can persuade your neighbors to get together for an organizational meeting for such a program, the CV Station will back you up. Silversparre asks you to call Deputy Eric Matejka or Sgt. Robert Galbraith at the CV Station and they'll help you with a presentation. The station's number is (818) 248-3464.

There's much to say about a beautifully situated, secluded hillside property, and we are blessed with an abundance of them in our city. Unfortunately, they are also tantalizing targets for opportunists who have no conscience about stealing from someone else.

And, of course, those criminals have transportation. People whose homes are in the northeast part of town are not the only ones who need to be on alert today. We all do. Double-check your locks. Make it your business to be aware of what's going on down the street. Alert authorities if you see anything suspicious, as you might be saving a neighbor from the serious distress that follows a burglary. Above all, stay safe.


CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor. She can be reached at carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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