Over the last few weeks, we have experienced some crime trends new to our area. Numerous community members discovered their vehicle sitting on cement blocks with the tires and rims missing as they approached it. All the vehicles involved were high-end models, mostly consisting of BMW's and Mercedes Benz. Surprisingly, the majority of vehicles were parked in secured underground parking structures.
It was quickly determined that the problem was not just limited to North Hollywood, but was citywide. At some locations, we were able to obtain incredible video from various security cameras. The surveillance video provided crystal clear images of the suspects as well as the vehicles involved in this elaborate theft ring. Some of the same suspects and vehicles were discovered on surveillance video in crimes spanning from the San Fernando Valley to theVenice Beach area.
As a result of the number of incidents and the knowledge we now have of the vehicles used, officers everywhere were looking for these suspects. As I was addressing this very issue to a Neighborhood Watch Group, who days prior had four residents victimized, LAPD Officers observed one of the vehicles and conducted a traffic stop. Numerous cement blocks were discovered inside the vehicle, and the occupants were detained. Since most people don't regularly drive while carrying cement blocks loaded in their vehicle, we, the police, consider this a CLUE.
The suspects admitted to the crimes, and the detectives were able to make multiple arrests. The follow-up investigation resulted in the recovery of over 200 sets of tires and rims from various locations. The suspects worked for someone who paid them $200.00 for each set they delivered. The stolen property was then sold on various internet sites for thousands more.
We are currently working on identifying the property and returning it to the numerous victims. The court case is still pending.
Any questions, comments or concerns should be forwarded to Officer Catalano at [email protected] If you would like to receive crime statistics, crime updates and newsletters via e-mail, sign up at www.lapdepolicing.org.