Some ambitious Los Angeles street gangs are taking their show on the road, so to speak, with Ventura County communities among the targets.
Ventura County has been hit by a string of residential burglaries.
Ventura County Undersheriff Gary Pentis says that gangs have become sophisticated in their approach to burglaries. Pentis says they are doing everything from using the internet to identify possible targets to doing their own versions of stakeouts, to try to identify when homes are vacant.
Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and LAPD detectives started a joint investigation after a string of what appeared to be related burglaries began in eastern Ventura County in April. The net result was five arrests, with two more people still being sought for more than 20 burglaries in Ventura and Los Angeles counties. Investigators say the arrests highlight a much bigger, ongoing problem.
Many gangs feel that burglaries are a lower risk type of crime that drug sales, and have even decided that it’s more lucrative than fighting with traditional rivals.
Sergeant Michael Mahar is with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Major Crimes Bureau. He’s part of a burglary/robbery task force which focuses on these types of crimes, and says they’ve seen longtime enemies.
Mahar says the rings are so sophisticated that they even have regular planning meetings, to coordinate who will do what in the burglaries.
Investigators from both Ventura and Los Angeles Counties say they are trying to call the public’s attention to this problem. They say seeing suspicious activity in your neighborhood, and reporting it promptly is vital to catching the organized burglars. And, Pentis says while the burglars target vacant homes, when residents don’t answer their phones, or doorbells it’s led to some dangerous confrontations, with some residents in the county being seriously injured. They say one of the best deterrents is an alarm system, and while video cameras are great at capturing images of the burglars, they won’t stop them, and provide some evidence after the fact.
But, investigators say the number one thing to do is to be alert about what’s happening in your neighborhood, and if you see something, or someone suspicious, don’t wait to call 9-1-1.