Home Burglary and Lessons Learned

On June 28th, 2008 our home was burglarized by south Los Angeles gang members.

They had actually cased our home. Being broken into was bad enough but to know they’ve been watching our every move was even creepier.

After talking to the gang detectives I found out that there are two South Los Angeles gangs. The SLA Crips and the 1400 Mansfield. Both gangs are targeting our Miracle Mile and surrounding areas.The two men who broke into our home have extensive rap sheets and have been at large for some time now.

The mistakes we made were apparent in retrospect. We forgot to turn the light out and take in the trash cans. This made it look like we were not home. Also, we didn’t have an alarm system on our home. We don’t have a dog either. These are all deterrent tips from the detectives at the Wilshire Station. Normally when we leave to go anywhere I’m aware of my surroundings and notice any unusual cars or activity on our block. My husband had hurt his back and I was distracted getting him and my 2 year old son into the car. Our other car had been in the shop and we were headed to pick it up. I’m sure only having one car in the driveway when there are usually two was also a green flag for them.

We left at around 11:30 in the morning and returned at around 12:20 pm. Our neighbor just happened to see two African American males she did not recognize enter our driveway gate and head into the back yard. We have a lock on our gate but we’ve never locked it. They knew that! As the men turned the corner and out of sight our neighbor called 911. As our luck would have it the men were only able to go through our night stands, dresser and get into the closet before the air unit was over out home. It just happened to be in the air and in our area. The men didn’t have a chance to get much but with the air unit above they used unusual force to rip out our entire built in shelving unit that our safe was attached to, in the master closet. We did not have it attached to the wall studs. This would have prevented the damage we received.

They left with or safe and made it a block before dumping it and the crow bar used to break in through our rear French doors into the bushes. A screw driver and socks (used as gloves) were scattered between our back yard and the safe drop location. From there they changed t-shirts and ran a couple more blocks before Captain Davis of the Wilshire Station captured the first perpetrator and the other detectives encircled the second who jumped a fence into a private back yard and hid in the bushes.

Two fully loaded plain clothes detectives cars just happened to be blocks away. They were headed for lunch on Wilshire. Lucky us! With the help of the air unit, ground detectives and the K-9 unit called in, they were able to flush out the second perpetrator. One is currently doing 2 years in State Prison and the second was let out on bail that night. He burglarized another home that evening and was caught for the second time that day. He is again out on bail and is fighting the system on a pipe dream to stay out of prison.

The detectives tell us that a lot of victims don’t go to court out of fear. This is the worst thing any of us can do. We must fight back and defend our homes and those of our neighbors so we can live free of fear. These gangs are watching our neighborhoods and possibly even your home. No one is immune to their watchful eyes.

They know when you leave for work and when you return. They know if you have dogs or an alarm. If you have an alarm and don’t use it, they will test it by pushing on a door or window. They have been known to lift a young child through a small closet window. The child comes around to open the door for the rest to enter. This has happened a few times on our block alone. They will knock at the door and ask if John is there or try to sell magazine subscriptions or get a donation for a kid to go to “camp”. They have been caught in back yards testing the rear door. When caught and questioned they always have a story. “John told me to pick up a package in the back yard” or Joe told me he had a skate key for my skateboard.” No skateboard was present! They are testing us and watching us. They are doing their homework and taking notes. They carry police radios and communicate via cell phones. They will claim to have car trouble for hours and miraculously start the car when the neighbors start to confront them. They are boys, girls, men, women, young and old. They drive mini vans, mustangs, trucks, SUV’s, small cars and sedans.

After our break in I decided to talk to every one of my neighbors. We decided as a block to create a contact sheet for communication. We haven’t had a break in on our block since! We also have a manned alarm system and are going to get a dog. These are just a few things to help ensure the safety of your family and home. The best thing we can do is communicate and keep an eye out.

If you see a suspicious person or vehicle don’t be afraid to call the non-emergency line at the police station at (213) 473-0467 and have a car come check it out. I’ve done this numerous times. This beats your home being broken into or possible confrontation with one of these individuals. Please be vigilant and communicate with your neighbors. Let’s keep our neighborhood safe.

Aliza Durand
MMRA Board Member