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.
The statistics, reported on the BPD website in mid-September, could change as investigations progress or late reports are given.
Numbered among the thefts is a string of catalytic converter thefts, the car part sometimes targeted because of its value as scrap. At one point this month, the BPD reported making about 10 arrests in a week over stolen catalytic converters, which reduce pollutants in vehicle exhaust.
But thefts of the device are nothing new. Sgt. Derek Green, a spokesman for the BPD, said in an email that the department has seen the thefts “on a fairly consistent basis over the past year or so.”
“We’ve made a lot of arrests of catalytic converter thefts over the past several months, several of which were a result of citizens seeing the crime occurring and calling the police,” he added.
For example, according to arrest records, four people were spotted near North Glenoaks Boulevard and Tulare Avenue trying to steal a converter from a van in the early-morning hours of Aug. 28. After the owner of the van shined a flashlight at them, the suspects ran away but were quickly arrested. Police found two of the devices in their vehicle, the arrest log states.
More recently, on Aug. 18, a resident reported seeing a man using a power tool to remove the catalytic converter from his truck.
Another type of crime has also soared this year: unemployment benefits fraud. On Saturday, Sept. 19, someone reported seeing possibly fraudulent activity at the Bank of America on West Olive Avenue. Police stopped a vehicle matching the description given by the witness, according to Green, who said officers arrested two people.
Green added that the investigation led to police finding numerous cards from the California Employment Development Department, which issues debit cards to distribute unemployment benefits.
The police spokesman also said investigators found “a large amount of cash.”
“EDD fraud has been on the rise since the onset of COVID-19,” Green said in an email. “There have been countless claims submitted in the names of both fictitious and real people, many of whom never actually filed for unemployment. EDD mail and access cards, some loaded with thousands of dollars, are being sent to vacant properties and where they are intercepted by thieves who use the cards fraudulently.”
Both people who were arrested are from out of state, according to Green.