Flintridge area residents are lining up reinforcements in response to the pair of home invasions reported last month in their neighborhood.
Homeowners are in the process of contracting the Pasadena-based California Metro Patrol, an armed private security company, to help patrol Commonwealth Avenue, Woodleigh Lane and possibly parts of Berkshire Avenue, said Dharshi Chindris, whose home has been broken into twice.
“We’re trying to get the whole neighborhood thing going,” said Chindris, whose family temporarily hired its own armed patrol for its property following the second reported invasion on New Year’s Eve. She said she hopes the neighborhood patrol will provide more long-term security.
“I guess it’s time to do whatever we have to do,” she said.
Masked men, allegedly armed with a handgun in both instances, were reported to have forced their way into a home in the 800 block of Inverness Drive on Dec. 12, and into another home in the 800 block of Flintridge Avenue on Dec. 31. The assailants tied up residents, ransacked their homes and made off with valuables, authorities said.
Joseph Perez, California Metro Patrol’s operations manager, said his company is well suited to address the situation in LCF. He said this week he’s received a slew of requests from concerned homeowners and plans to hold a meeting with them within the next couple of weeks.
Though he said he expects residents to fund a single patrol car, the plan of action will be to start by “flooding the area with additional cars.”
“The visible presence is a huge deterrent for anyone walking around,” Perez said by phone Tuesday. “They’ll start thinking twice about whether they’re going to do something or not.”
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Capt. Chris Blasnek said he would welcome the additional security presence.
“I have no problem with an extra set of eyes being out there to assist us,” Blasnek wrote in an email. “Even though they don’t have police powers to arrest, the ability to deter any crimes from happening is always welcome. Sometimes just having a marked vehicle roaming the area may give any possible criminals the idea to move on and go elsewhere.”
Perez, who is medically retired from the Pasadena Police Department, said he helped establish California Metro Patrol in 2013. The company currently has a staff of 16, he said, all of whom are vetted and trained as law enforcement personnel would be, as well as being required to qualify to use a firearm four times a year — twice more than specified by state law.
“We’re not the police,” he said. “We’re a niche point between private citizens and law enforcement. We are the eyes and ears when residents are not around or are comfortable resting in their homes, we’re the ones calling law enforcement.
“If someone is on the street, we’ll stop and talk to them, determine who they are, and take a picture of their vehicle. If something looks suspicious, we’ll take a picture and document it so if something does happen and the sheriff contacts us to ask, ‘Did you see anything?’ We can say, ‘We saw it and here’s a picture and a license.’”
Currently, California Metro Patrol’s coverage area includes the San Rafael and south Madison Heights areas of Pasadena, as well as Pasadena Unified School District campuses, Perez said.
“But we’re willing to expand and grow and provide that level of security to La Cañada,” he said.
In the meantime, Chindris said she’s noticed an increased presence by Sheriff’s deputies in the neighborhood over the past couple of weeks, and that she’s thankful for it.
On Thursday, Jan. 11, Deputy Eric Matejka arrested two suspects charged with grand theft auto, reasonable cause burglary and possession of burglary tools following a tip from a resident reporting what looked like an attempted theft in the 4800 block of Mesa Vista Drive.
“We got these two guys, but people have got to know that more people are going to come right behind them,” Matejka said. “Everyone has to stay on their toes.”
In December, six residential burglaries were reported in LCF, Blasnek said. One of those occurred at a home where a garage was left open, and in four of them, nothing was taken, he said.
“It looks like the residents are doing a very good job of securing their houses and setting their alarms,” Blasnek said. “Hopefully as soon as alarms go off, suspects are taking off. A window gets smashed, and suspects run. Word is out.”