Two people, including a Burbank man, were arrested after what police said was a fight at the Tinhorn Flats Saloon and Grill, a local restaurant that has defied the statewide ban on in-person dining. The fight involved five people and occurred on Tuesday at about 6:50 p.m., according to Sgt. Derek Green of the Burbank Police Department. Green said the altercation appeared to have been “fueled by differing political views,” with the argument turning physical and at least one person suffering cuts. Officers arrested Steve Ceniceros, a Burbank resident, and Randi Berger of Tarzana on suspicion of assault with a deadly weapon, Green said. He added that a razor blade may have been used in the incident and that one of the suspects had a stun gun. A police report listed three victims, who said the suspects used racial epithets, Green said. Bail for Ceniceros and Berger was set at $30,000, according to Green. One of the victims was treated at a local hospital for non-life-threatening injuries. Tinhorn Flats was at the center of controversy in Burbank after its owner recently announced he was refusing to comply with county and state health orders prohibiting in-person dining. The eatery has also been something of a gathering place for anti-mask adherents and supporters of President Donald Trump, with the restaurant’s owner publicly saying the coronavirus pandemic has been overblown and claiming the number of deaths attributable to the disease is fake. Many residents expressed outrage at the restaurant’s stance as coronavirus cases and hospitalizations have skyrocketed, and some called on the city to take action against Tinhorn Flats. City officials have said they have reported Tinhorn Flats to the county and state, which handle enforcement of the health orders, but noted that it will take some time before either agency can move forward in the process of possibly removing the restaurant’s health and alcohol licenses.
COVID-19 cases are again trending upwards, with national records being broken in recent weeks and health officials urging the public to stick to safety protocols to slow the surge. As of Wednesday, according to the most recent data published on the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health dashboard on Friday, Burbank has had 2,140 cases and 74 deaths. A seven-day average of new coronavirus cases had crept up to 19.4 a day, surpassing summer peaks. A month earlier, on Oct. 11, that seven-day average was 11.3 new cases a day; it was as low as 4.7 in September. “There are many contributing factors to this increase,” Mayor Sharon Springer said in an email, “which include an uptick in cases in some of our skilled nursing facilities, an increase in Burbank residents being tested, and an increase in people becoming complacent and beginning to gather in homes, whether it be to watch sporting events or people just tired of the restrictions and wanting to socialize. Burbank has not seen a new reported fatality in over a week.”
Though crime generally appeared to remain flat in Burbank from September to October, reports of aggravated assault more than doubled, while those of burglaries decreased by half. Recently released data from the Burbank Police Department on reports of “index crimes,” or major incidents that are often used to estimate crime rates, show a total of 201 reports in October, compared to 204 in September. Nearly all types of crimes stayed steady between the two months, with the exception of two: aggravated assaults rose from seven in September to 15 in October, while burglaries dropped from 25 to 12 during the same period. “Crime statistics fluctuate from month to month. I have no direct knowledge of anything specific that led to the decline in burglaries and/or the increase in aggravated assaults,” said BPD Sgt. Derek Green in an email.
Burbank’s recent announcement that face covering requirements would be enforced with fines was an initiative prompted by community outcry. But while many residents applaud the city for its actions, not everyone is pleased. Operating largely on social media, some members of the Burbank community have argued against the move, or mask rules in general. A now-deleted Facebook post by Burbank eatery Tinhorn Flats Saloon & Grill gained attention from residents and news media for its fiery response to the city’s announcement. “The Burbank City Council is hiring Mall Cops to enforce this mask mandate because the AMAZING BURBANK PD is refusing to enforce this,” the post read. “WE WILL NOT BOW DOWN TO THREATS & FEARS and WE STAND AGAINST the Burbank City Council and their unconstitutional … act.”
Officers from the Burbank Police Department arrested 20 people on suspicion of unemployment benefits fraud in September, making several of the arrests at a local Bank of America branch. Unemployment fraud has become more frequent since the COVID-19 pandemic began, according to BPD spokesman Sgt. Derek Green. Cards from the California Employment Development Department are sent to people receiving unemployment benefits, but the BPD has reported that some are getting the cards through fraudulent means, using them to withdraw cash. In some cases, the department made multiple arrests related to alleged EDD fraud in one day.
The last of a series of local forums on local, state and federal elections also proved to be the most combative, with the two candidates for California’s 28th congressional district clashing over the coronavirus, the president and other topics. Rep. Adam Schiff, who has represented the 28th Congressional District that includes Burbank, Glendale and part of Pasadena, is running against Eric Early, a Republican attorney who previously made an unsuccessful bid for California attorney general. The event hosting the two candidates, held Monday by the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank, had been marketed as a Q&A-focused forum. But a flurry of attacks from Early against his Democratic opponent pushed it into the territory of an aggressive debate, while Schiff reserved most of his jabs for Trump and other Republicans.
Thefts in Burbank rose by about 23% from July to August, according to recently published data from the Police Department, though crime reports overall increased by a smaller margin. The hike in thefts contributed to a rise in Burbank’s reported Part I offenses, also known as index crimes for their common usage as statistical indicators by law enforcement, from 203 in July to 214 in August. However, crime reports from January to August this year are still the lowest they have been since the same period in 2013. After seeing a steady fall for two months, theft reports jumped from 130 in July to 160 in August. The number of some violent crimes also fell; there were no murders or rapes reported in August — compared with one murder and five rapes reported in July — though robberies and aggravated assaults rose by two each.
Burbank-based Coffee Cube had one of its signature red trailers stolen from the startup’s property last weekend, representatives say. The trailer, which Coffee Cube uses as a mobile coffee and pastry bar, was stolen from the business’ headquarters at 2121 Kenmere Ave. sometime between 1 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 5, and 11 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 6, according to Sgt. Derek Green, public information officer for the Burbank Police Department. The trailer was not attached to a vehicle at the time, though the hitch had been locked, according to Jhairo Echevarria, marketing director for Coffee Cube, which operates a store in Canoga Park and offers coffee services to offices.
After hearing from some residents who voiced frustration that the topic hadn’t been discussed, the Burbank City Council will review the possibility of fining people who don’t adhere to face covering requirements. Council members Emily Gabel-Luddy and Timothy Murphy led the push during the panel’s Tuesday meeting to return a report on the subject to the agenda. The matter is scheduled to be discussed when the council next meets on Sept. 15. The report, drafted by the Burbank Police Department, had been placed on the agenda before the council’s Aug. 11 meeting after Councilman Jess Talamantes requested it. But when the meeting began, Talamantes abruptly pulled the item, later saying he “didn’t feel it was the right time to discuss it.”
Last month, reports of crimes committed in Burbank dropped to the lowest levels since April, as some studies argue that the COVID-19 pandemic is driving down certain types of crimes throughout the nation. Overall, reports of so-called Part 1 offenses — a range of violent and property-related crimes — in July dropped about 15.8% from June, from 241 to 203, according to data recently published on the Burbank Police Department website. Last month’s total was also the lowest since April, which had 165 reports of Part 1 crimes. The short-term decrease in incidents, meanwhile, is echoed in a longer-term statistic. With a total of 1,545 reported crimes from January to July, this year is showing the lowest number of offenses since 2013, when 1,508 occurred within the same six-month period. Thefts, by far the most common type of crime occurring in Burbank, also fell 9%, from 143 cases in June to 130 in July.