Crime Close To Home
BELATED HAPPY EASTER TO YOU ALL
We hope you all had a great Easter weekend, filled with family fun and lots of candy. Here's a story about how we spent part of our weekend.
CONCERNS ABOUT CRIME
Many Costa Mesans have been concerned about the increase in the crime rate in our city for the past few years. Those of us who follow municipal issues understand some of the reasons for this increase, a few of which date back six years when the new Council majority arbitrarily chose to slash the Police Department staffing levels - ignoring the recommendations of the consultants who just completed a study of the CMPD - then refused to permit then-Chief Tom Gazsi recruit to fill vacancies created by the toxic workplace the council had created. We're still digging out of that hole.
NEW LAWS EXACERBATE THE PROBLEM
And then there is the legislative triple-whammy laid on us by the State - AB 109, Prop. 47 and Prop. 57 - which mandated actions which placed criminals back on our streets.
And then there's the homelessness issue, which - while some progress has been made - seems very much like we're bailing out a sinking boat with a teaspoon.
SOBER LIVING HOMES
And then there's the Sober Living Home issue - Costa Mesa has more than 80 of the 108 state-licensed facilities in Orange County and at least 200 more unlicensed sober living homes. Many of those homes just toss failed clients out onto our streets with no means of support, adding to our homelessness problem, and some of those resort to crime to survive.
CRIME IN OUR NEIGHBORHOOD
Which brings me to the real subject of this entry - a crime that occurred in my neighborhood the end of last week...
We have a neighbor, a very successful single woman with a job that requires some travel, who has lived in our neighborhood a couple years. Late last Thursday night, while she was in the Far East on business, two hooded hooligans broke into her home and robbed her, taking mostly jewelry. And, a frustrating element of this event was that she actually watched this happening while on a layover through the technology she had installed, but couldn't do anything about it from half-way around the world.
CMPD ON THE CASE
We got involved when her boyfriend called us Friday morning while we were discovering the nature delights of the Bolsa Chica Nature Preserve to tell us of the robbery. By the time we got home a couple hours later and investigated we found that, indeed, our neighbor's home had been burgled. We called the Costa Mesa Police Department and two of our finest - officers Kris Cover and Dana Potts - promptly arrived, assessed the situation and began their investigation. It took them more than 3 hours to examine the crime scene and dust for prints - they got some good ones. Our neighbor arrived home from her trip about the time they had finished that investigation, so she was interviewed. Officer Cover has returned at least once more to continue the investigation.
ALARM SYSTEM DISABLED
My neighbor's house had an alarm system - which was triggered by the robbers after they had already grabbed the jewelry - plus some motion sensor cameras. The alarm was not audible outside the home, but they ripped the keypad off the wall and found the site of the alarm and tried to rip that off the wall, too, but failed. What they did accomplish was disabling the system that would have alerted the alarm company and resulted in an immediate contact with the police.
The crooks entered her home by smashing out a plate glass window beside a French Door in her den. Glass shards were everywhere. They immediately ransacked her bedroom and closet and found the jewelry and also appeared to be looking for drugs. They apparently didn't take anything large - like a computer, for example. They exited through the front door sometime around midnight.
SHE DID WHAT SHE COULD
Our neighbor did what she could to secure her house - she had a lock system on the side gate, and she had a security system from a reliable company. It's unclear how the crooks knew she was gone, but apparently they did. We presume they had cased the neighborhood, which makes all of us here more than a little nervous.
MORE SUSPICIOUS BEHAVIOR
And, Thursday morning another neighbor saw someone on a bike wearing a hoodie cruising around our neighborhood and confronted him. He was told by the guy on the bike that he was waiting for a friend on an adjacent street. Our neighbor followed him and he rode out of our neighborhood, not to the street he spoke of earlier.
The night after the robbery another neighbor discovered a guy pounding on the front door of his next door neighbor - an elderly gentleman - at 10:30 p.m. and confronted him and that guy skidaddled, too.
NO CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATORS? WHAT?!
As Officers Cover and Potts began their investigation I asked when the Crime Scene Investigators (CSI) would arrive and was told, much to my chagrin and surprise, that we don't have any CSIs! Nope, we do have a supervisor, but no actual investigators - apparently those positions are vacant, but some candidates are in background check now.
WELL BELOW STAFFING LEVELS
Some will recall that Costa Mesa Police Chief Rob Sharpnack recently told us we probably won't be fully staffed in the CMPD until the end of 2018. This staffing short fall manifests itself in situations like this, where patrol officers must take their valuable time to perform the investigation function. It's my understanding that we have finally dropped the vacancy level in sworn officers below 20, but the overall vacancy rate in the CMPD still hovers just below 40, including three vacancies for CSIs.
WE NEED MORE COPS!
We live in a safe neighborhood, but such incidents are becoming much more frequent, just as they are throughout the city. Despite what Jim Righeimer says, more cops on the street WILL mean less crime in our city. He is personally responsible for our current situation, so you can expect him to take that position.... and he's wrong.
STAY ALERT! IF YOU SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING!
So, my message to you is to stay alert. As the folks at the CMPD tell us - If you see something, say something! Be alert for cars that don't seem to belong in your neighborhood. Watch for folks on bikes cruising your streets. Lock your cars and keep valuables out of sight on the street or in your driveways. When in doubt, call 911 - the cops want to know! Until we get fully staffed we ALL are going to have to be more alert. Learn from my neighbor's situation and don't become a victim of crime. Click HERE, for a list of Home Security tips provided by the CMPD.
"THANK" RIGHEIMER - IT'S HIS FAULT
And, you may wish to thank Righeimer for this situation the next time you see him. And, keep the pressure on our City Council to do what it takes to get the CMPD back up to proper staffing levels quickly so they can protect us.