The numbers are backing up what Long Beach residents have feared. Residential burglary has been on the rise — and Long Beach Police Department officials said the suspects have come in all forms.
According to first quarter 2013 (January-March) numbers, residential burglaries citywide have risen 35.4% compared to the same period last year — 711 versus 525. During that same time in 2013, police have made arrests of 63 adults and 21 juveniles in relation to residential burglaries.
“We are making a lot of arrests of burglary suspects,” said Sergeant Robert Woods, LBPD Burglary Detail. “I haven’t had a chance to look at 2012 to see if that is a dramatic increase, but I do know that there have been a lot. And the suspect profiles are all over the map.”
Citywide, 2012 already had seen a 19.6% increase in residential burglaries versus 2011. Woods said it was concerning to see such an increase during the past 15 months.
Residential burglary can extend to attached garages and even apartment underground parking structures. As far as a pattern, officials said they haven’t really found one, although the specter of the state’s early prison release bill looms.
“It does come down to the fact that we had the early release, and that is really the only tangible item that we can look at and say what has changed dramatically since the beginning of 2012 to now, that was the difference prior to this,” Woods said.
Officials cited four recent burglary case examples:
• In mid-February, police arrested 23-year-old Alisha Tapia and 28-year-old Chhin Phon at a Signal Hill motel. Both were Long Beach residents staying at the hotel. Tapia was on probation for burglary and Phon was on probation for a weapons violation — each with an extensive criminal arrest record.
Officials filed nine counts of residential burglary against Tapia and two counts against Phon. They found numerous pieces of stolen property from Long Beach residential burglaries in the hotel room.
• On March 13 at the 1300 block of West Burnett Street, there were two male suspects attempting to enter a home through the front door. When that failed, they jumped a fence into the backyard and entered the home through an open window.
Police arrived and arrested a 17-year-old suspect who tried to flee. The other suspect remains at large.
• On March 14 at the 6000 block of Elm Avenue, 18-year-old Tievon Harmon of Compton was caught running out of a residence he had just burglarized. All stolen goods were returned to the owners.
• On March 19 at the 6300 block of Colorado Street, two male suspects approached a home.
“We believe it was going to be a door-knock type of situation,” Woods said. “They knocked and the victim inside did not answer. At that point, the victim heard noise at the back of the house, and it appears that the suspects went there to look for open windows and doors. When they didn’t find that, another method is blatantly kicking the door in.”
At that point, the suspects found out the victim was home and fled the scene. They remain at large.
Woods said suspects going door to door and knocking as if they are salesman has become an increasingly common tool — whether acting as a Verizon technician or inquiring about security systems. He said he recently interviewed two such suspects who said they look for the following: Signs of a burglary alarm, signs of a dome for a security camera and whether dogs live there.
“They see any of that and they’ll move onto the next house,” Woods said.
Beyond that, Woods said officials couldn’t continue to stress enough that the public keep doors and windows locked when at all possible. If a person sees solicitors, no matter how nice they look, Woods said, it does not hurt to call the police and have them check on those person’s credentials.
“Let us come out and check it out and see if they have the proper business license and whether they belong there,” he said.