Sheriff’s Advice on Thwarting Burglars: Think Before You Post

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva commands the microphone at a recent town hall at La Cañada High School as Capt. Todd Deeds of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station stands by. Tanya Wilson, head of security at LCHS, is pictured in the background.
Photos by Wes Woods II / OUTLOOK
Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva commands the microphone at a recent town hall at La Cañada High School as Capt. Todd Deeds of the Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station stands by. Tanya Wilson, head of security at LCHS, is pictured in the background.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva shared some advice for residents who have been affected by or concerned about recent residential burglaries in the area: Don’t post on social media when you’re gone.
Villanueva, flanked by numerous uniformed sheriff’s officials, last week hosted a town hall meeting in the La Cañada High School library, where he was asked about recent break-ins. According to crime statistics provided at an Oct. 15 City Council meeting, there were 80 residential burglaries from January-September, compared with 43 during the same period last year.
“When you have that really fancy vacation in Europe for three weeks, you know the one … don’t post or brag about it while you’re in Europe,” Villanueva said. “Because someone is going to get that feed on social media and say, ‘Hey, this is pretty great. They’re in Sardinia. OK, they’re not going to be here in the next day or two.’ So they drive that Ryder truck. They back it up into your driveway. They unload the contents of your house into the truck and they’re gone while you’re in Sardinia.
“So let’s not do that. You can brag about your trip and upset all of your loved ones and your friends when you get back home.”
In introducing Villanueva, La Cañada Flintridge Mayor Leonard Pieroni noted the special nature of the town hall event.
“Tonight’s event is a first for a sitting sheriff to come and address our residents and take questions on local law enforcement issues that are important to our community,” Pieroni said. “We all share the desire for safe and crime-free communities.”
A video about the history of the Sheriff’s Department was also played. Besides his advice about social media, Villanueva gave some general tips for attendees.
“We’ve got to be a harder target,” he said. He suggested that residents get an alarm system with video surveillance, obtain a dog and leave lights and music on when they’re out of the home.
Villanueva also recommended practicing “crime prevention through environmental design,” such as not having a front door concealed from the street by trees or hedges.
“We can’t see it from the street, so the deputy driving by would never know what’s going on because you made an effort to conceal it,” he said.
He also urged residents to form neighborhood watch organizations, know their neighbors and not hesitate to call law enforcement.
“You want us to be the ones to stop that suspicious vehicle loaded with suspicious-looking people and say, ‘Who are you and what’s your business in our community?’” Villanueva said.
“We’ll find the answer to those questions. They could be legitimate, 100%, great. But if they’re not, then we have these interesting conversations and a good deputy knows how to work them, and it leads to an arrest.”
He added that residents need to be aware of their surroundings all the time because there have been home invasion robberies in which perpetrators have followed victims into their garages after following them for miles. He said surveillance video from ATM robberies has also shown people going to the machine during the presence of someone who didn’t belong there.
“Safety should be a habit constantly,” Villanueva said. “If you have weapons in your home, make sure they’re locked up and they’re secured. Don’t leave them out in the open. Because a lot of weapons the bad guys get is because they burglarized good people’s homes and they steal their weapons.”
Crescenta Valley Sheriff’s Station Capt. Todd Deeds said his local operation had been working closely with the sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau, which has a team of detectives that targets residential burglary suspects, and “they’ve taken down a few of those crews lately. The number of burglaries that have occurred … is a low number this month compared with the last couple of months. They’ve arrested some burglary crews and the crimes have gone down considerably. We’re very excited about that.”
LCF Public Safety Commissioner Wes Seastrom attended the meeting, with about 10 or 15 other people, and said he was disappointed by the advertising for the event. He said he learned of it a day before on a Sheriff’s Department post.
“In this community, you have to give at least a week notice,” Seastrom said. He said the sheriff gave “very good” advice on securing homes, though his suggestion that residents take part in the city’s Ring security system program came too late — the program has expired.
Nonetheless, Seastrom said he thought Villanueva’s social media advice was excellent.
“Something [that many people don’t think about] is putting on social media that they’re on a trip or they’re having dinner,” he said.

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