La Jolla burglaries linked to ‘sophisticated’ criminal network, police say

The San Diego Police Department said many recent burglaries in La Jolla were part of a larger organized crime network. As a result, the department’s northern division said it was allocating additional resources to the area, including plainclothes officers and a detective on a task force to follow leads.

A group of residents gathered Jan. 21 in the parking lot of the Franco-American School of San Diego in La Jolla to hear from police officials and City Councilman Joe LaCava, whose District 1 includes La Jolla, to learn more about the situation and what they can do. .

SDPD Capt. Scott Wahl said there have been 56 residential burglaries in La Jolla in the past six months, 18 of which are believed to be linked to the criminal network. Several of the burglaries took place in the Muirlands area.

“Most took place during the months of November and December. I fell out of my chair when I heard that,” Wahl said. “Some of the crime that’s happening here is happening all over San Diego County and Los Angeles.”

In San Diego County, similar burglaries have been reported in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Poway, 4S Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, Torrey Highlands, Del Mar Mesa, Black Mountain Ranch and other areas.

Lt. Rick Aguilar said the burglars (usually three or four) were in their 20s and 30s and were wearing high-end clothing. They often study a neighborhood to learn patterns, driving high-end vehicles to fit in. In some cases, they approach a home on foot from the surrounding trails and canyons. In others, a driver drops them off and waits on the street in a getaway car.

Thieves often break in the afternoon and enter a house after dark when the owners leave.

“The biggest thing to look for is a shoulder satchel bag. If you see anything like that, you have to give us a call,” Aguilar said. when you leave your house They will go to the second floor, either with patio furniture or by climbing the wall They go to the second floor because in many cases the alarm system is not active on the second floor They target the master bedroom, master bathroom, taking jewelry left on counters and dressers, they have entered closets and safes.

Wahl said thieves strike when no one is home because they “don’t want interactions with people. They are unarmed and do not steal weapons if they encounter them. I think they are aware of how it would raise the status of crime. They stick to property crimes and high cost crimes. The value of what was taken from homes across the county is in the millions. »

In some cases, home security cameras have been “jammed” using Wi-Fi disruptive equipment that prevents some cameras from working properly.

“If you have a WiFi-based security system and camera system, it can get jammed. So a wired system is best,” Wahl said.

To pursue burglars, Aguilar said, “we’re going to use extra patrol officers to patrol the area, undercover detectives to drive around in regular vehicles. We’re going to have officers working overtime to patrol this area. We hear you loud and clear… we want to catch these people.

He added that “we will work with our partners to share additional information; we work with federal authorities, the local sheriff’s department and other divisions.

Wahl promised that “we are putting forth all of our resources to make this our top priority at the North Division. We are assigning additional officers, whether they are working overtime or coming from another sector, who are going to focus solely on this issue; they will not work on other issues. So when those alarm calls go off, they can go right there.

Many residents at the meeting told stories of their homes being broken into, items being stolen and lackluster police response. Several said that when they called the police, it took hours or even days for an officer to arrive.

“I give you everything I have,” Wahl replied. “We don’t have officers or detectives in reserve. …I would love to catch these guys in our area. They can also catch them elsewhere, but I would love to catch them here.

Aguilar previously told the La Jolla Light that residents can help protect their homes with good lighting and notifying a neighbor when they go on vacation so the neighbor can monitor and report anything suspicious.

“Our Retired Volunteer Services Patrol also do vacation home checks for you. So if you call our substation, let [us] know you’re going on vacation and we can let our RSVPs check your house when you…are gone,” Aguilar said. ◆

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