A family outing to the Aquarium of the Pacific last month turned from fun to frustration when Darren Grosch returned to the parking garage to find his car gone.

"I parked my new Toyota Highlander at the parking garage while visiting the Aquarium of the Pacific with my wife and two small children," Grosch said. "We chose to park in the garage, rather than the street, because we were under the impression that it was a secure place to park. When we returned to the garage we were stunned to see that our car had been stolen."

Stunned frustration quickly turned to anger when, after reporting the stolen car to Long Beach police and garage operator LAZ, Grosch discovered that the garage's security camera system wasn't working. LAZ personnel told Grosch that the city was responsible for the camera system.

The following Monday (the theft occurred on Friday), Grosch began reaching out to elected officials. He said a letter to Second District Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce produced no response. A separate email from Grosch's wife Lindsey to Mayor Robert Garcia's office did get a response from Chief of Staff Mark Taylor, as well as the Long Beach Police Department command staff.

All the city correspondence confirmed that the camera system was not working, and Taylor promised to "make sure they are repaired as soon as possible."

In response to the Grunion, Public Works Director Craig Beck said that the city was aware the cameras were out. The issues were so bad, Beck said, that the system has to be completely replaced.

Beck said the replacement will cost about $215,000 and is earmarked as a priority item in the Fiscal 2020 Capital Improvement Budget. that fiscal year starts Oct. 1, so, Beck said, installation should take place before the holiday season.

"Glad to hear that the city plans to address this issue in the near future," Grosch said after being told of the replacement plan. "However, signage of some sort or extra security, something in the interim until the problem is resolved would be appropriate."

There was a semi-happy ending to the Grosches' saga. The Highlander was recovered last week in Signal Hill. It appears it was used for a joy ride, with the interior trashed, Grosch said. But it wasn't physically or mechanically damaged.

Harry Saltzgaver can be reached at hsalt@gazettes.com

Harry has been executive editor of Gazette Newspapers for more than 26 years. He has been in the newspaper business for more than 35 years, with experience on both weekly and metropolitan daily papers in Colorado and California.

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