The LAPD Senior Lead Officers for Westchester Chris Richardson and Ruben Garcia,  LAPD Detective Robyn Salazar, Cyndi Hench of Neighborhood Watch, and Cherie Dame of “Moms of Westchester/PDR” answered important questions at the Kentwood Home Guardians Safety and Security Meeting on November 20, 2013, at Covenant Presbyterian Church Hall.

When do you call the police?

What should you do if you see unfamiliar people sitting in an idling car on your street? What if the people have a nice car and appear well-dressed, but are behaving suspiciously? What if you see people going door-to-door, trying doorknobs or gates and scrutinizing driveways?

According to Westchester Senior Lead Officers Chris Richardson and Ruben Garcia, you should call the police immediately:

  • If you see a crime in progress, or if you see persons matching the description of suspects, call 911 and ask for an officer dispatch.
  • If you are suspicious, call (877) ASK-LAPD.
  • It is important to make a knowledge-based call. Tell the operator that the senior lead officers in Westchester (who are familiar with the types of property crime in our area) have instructed residents to report suspicious activity and to ask for an informational broadcast (a radio broadcast to Pacific Division officers).

How do you increase neighborhood safety?

Officers Richardson and Garcia and Detective Salazar recommend the following:

  • “Lock it, Hide it, Keep it”: Always lock the windows and doors of your house, even if you are gone only a short time. According to Detective Salazar, burglaries can take less than 10 minutes. Lock the doors of your vehicle and remove property inside from sight.
  • “Harden Your Target”: Make it more difficult for thieves to break in easily by installing a home security system or cameras, motion-sensor lights, and locking gates.
  • Never open your door to a stranger. Some criminals pose as contractors, salesmen and utility workers. Just say through the closed door that you are not interested.
  • Start or join a Neighborhood Watch group on your block. Cyndi Hench, a community advisor for Neighborhood Watch, pointed out that when people know their neighbors, their cars and their habits, they begin to take ownership of their block. They pay attention to suspicious behavior and people who do not belong and immediately call the LAPD.

What should you look out for?

  • Groups of 3 strangers, the driver (frequently a female) sits in an idling car (new, rented), a male looks out, and a male breaks in. They have previously cased the street, and are in and out of the target home in less than 10 minutes. If your neighbor is robbed, they have probably been studying your house, too.
  • “Knock-knock” burglars go door to door, knocking to see if anyone is home. If there is no answer, they go to the side and look up the driveway, or around the back if the gate is unlocked, checking for open doors or windows, or ways to break in. If someone is home, they may pose as contractors, salesmen, or utility workers.
  • Thieves are looking for unlocked cars. They will walk along streets trying car doors until they find one open. Sometimes they remove property from the car, sometimes they may even steal the car.

How can neighbors stay informed?

  • Westchester/ Playa del Rey Neighborhood Watch Block Captains are part of a Yahoo group which stays apprised of current criminal activity in our specific area. Each Block Captain has the emails of the neighbors on his/her block and keeps them informed.
  • The Facebook group, “Moms of Westchester/Playa del Rey” (specifically for mothers of young children), updates moms frequently about safety and security concerns.
  • Crime reporting is available at LAPDonline.org. For the latest crime mapping information, choose “crimemapping,” scroll down, choose “Pacific Division,” and check the box in the upper right-hand corner to select the dates you are interested in.
  • KHG is forming a Safety and Security Committee. Please become involved! The goal of this committee is to make use of the upcoming improvements to the KHG website and the KHG Facebook page to keep members up to date on safety and security issues pertinent to Kentwood.

For More Information

For specific questions, please contact:

Senior Lead Officer Ruben Garcia: (310)622-3978; 33236@LAPD.LACity.org

Senior Lead Officer Chris Richardson: (310)622-3976; 27443@LAPD.LACity.org

Detective Robyn Salazar: 33687@LAPD.LACity.org

Cyndi Hench: cyndiah@aol.com

[This article first appeared in the February 2014 issue of the Kentwood Home Guardians Newsletter.]