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Venice sees a rise in crime for homeless

March 25, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
During a forum hosted by ABC7, Venice residents spoke out about a growing crime problem, focusing on the young homeless group in their community. Eyewitness News checked out how police are dealing with the problem. It is a problem that concerns many residents and the LAPD. Police say the ages are between 17 and 25 and it's a very small transient group that is causing the problems. The LAPD is doing everything they can to control it.

When you talk to the homeless in Venice, it is a multi-pronged issue. But there is one element of the homeless community that has drawn attention by residents and the LAPD. It is a younger transient group that has moved into the homeless community, causing trouble. Even the homeless have been victimized.

"They've stolen from us, they have taken our blankets, our food, our clothes. I mean, we're on the streets, we don't have anything," said Billy, who is homeless.

"I've lost all my sleeping gear and everything," said a homeless woman. "I'll put it somewhere, in a safe spot that I think it is, and they come up and just take it all."

During an ABC 7 Listens community outreach meeting, there were varied opinions on what to do with the homeless. But on this specific issue, the younger element was what was causing major concern.

"They're young thugs and they're causing problems and they're exhibiting really bad behavior," said one resident during the forum.

"These are a group of individuals who choose not to work," said another Venice resident. "They beg on the streets and then they rob our houses at night."

In talking with residents Thursday, they still feel comfortable being around the homeless, even though they know about this younger element that's been moving in.

"I'm just cautious, I don't put myself in situations to be concerned over, but I feel fine," said Venice resident Korina Matyas.

"They're just ruthless, they don't care. I've seen groups of them and they come and just jump people for no reason," said Rachel Kartkop, a resident of Venice.

There is a unit at the Pacific Division of the LAPD that works with the homeless. The officers go out and start to get to know the community, including the young people that are there. Police say that this program has helped them identify who the troublemakers are.