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As temps rise, so do Valley burglaries

July 28, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
As the mercury rises in the summer months, San Fernando Valley residents struggle to stay cool, many leaving their doors and windows unlocked and police warn that's an open invitation to burglars. "The burglars who are going in are opportunists for the most part," said Captain Tia Morris, Los Angeles Police Department. Because folks are leaving their doors open and windows open ... they're trying the doors, they're trying the windows and they find whatever's available and they go in."

Captain Morris says burglaries in some San Fernando Valley communities have spiked. In Van Nuys there has been a 51 percent jump in burglaries.

"It's just kind of hard with the weather being the way it is, because of the economy people don't want to leave their air conditioner running," said Captain Morris. "So they open the doors and windows instead. And so it's just a balancing act that we just have to impress upon the residents that you got to make a choice here."

"At my house we close the doors and we leave the air conditioning on to stay cool like that," said Romeo Blackburn, a Van Nuys resident.

Many valley residents are aware of the increase in this type of crime, which is typical of the summer months. They say they're doing all they can to guard against becoming a victim.

"Normally we try to keep them open because of the heat, but because of the problem that you just spoke of occurring, I've kind of been close them lately," said Greg Willis, another Van Nuys resident.

"You don't know who's who anymore. People come out and you don't know if these people are targeting you or they're going to break in your car or what," said Dorothy Walker, a resident of North Hollywood. "You don't really know so you just do the first thing you can do is think of survival."

"Be mindful of who's in your neighborhood, especially if your neighbors are not home. And that you contact the police immediately if you see any suspicious activity, an individual loitering around a home, individuals that are not affiliated with a particular company, cable, Sears, that kind of thing. We're looking for people who really contact the police," said Lieutenant Armando Munoz.

Police say single family homes aren't the only residences being targeted; apartments with windows left open are also a temptation for burglars. Suspects are getting away with jewelry, cash and electronics. Lieutenant Munoz says residents should stay vigilant, take down license plate numbers and call police.

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