Reports of Aggravated Assault Rise Sharply, Burglaries Fall

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.

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Rash of Arrests Reported for Alleged Unemployment Fraud

Photo courtesy Burbank Police Department
The Burbank Police Department reported arresting six people for alleged unemployment benefits fraud in one day in September, retrieving 40 unemployment benefit cards, more than $40,000 in cash and a loaded gun. The department made 20 arrests over the course of the month.

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.

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Urn Holding Mother’s Ashes Stolen in Burbank

Photo courtesy Burbank Police Department
Burbank police are asking residents for help finding an urn with a mother’s ashes that was stolen from a vehicle this week along with several other items.

Denisha Whittle said she was away from her car for 10-15 minutes — closer to 12, she believes.
And when she came back, she noticed several items had been pulled from the vehicle’s console onto the passenger seat. But her thoughts were on one item in particular: an urn containing her mother’s ashes.
It was gone. So was a laptop, some gold rings that belonged to Whittle’s mother and a jewelry box passed down from her grandmother.
The theft reportedly occurred on Tuesday at about noon near an apartment in the 4400 block on Sarah Street. The urn, which was in a shipping box inside the unlocked vehicle, is inscribed with the name “Anita Sue Fowler.”
“People are crappy, but you don’t have to be that crappy,” Whittle said in a phone interview. “[The urn] is actually priceless to me.”

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Local Candidates Appeal to Voters in Forums

The League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank held a virtual forum for City Council hopefuls this week on the Burbank Channel on YouTube. Burbank Unified School District board and city treasurer candidates were also hosted.

With only a month until the Nov. 3 general election, local candidates have shifted into high gear, fighting for the prospect of a seat in City Hall or on the Burbank Unified School District board.
The candidates participated Wednesday in a series of forums, hosted by the League of Women Voters of Glendale/Burbank, allowing the contenders to answer major questions posed by the group as well as some submitted by local residents. The forums were streamed and are available on the Burbank Channel on YouTube.
Eight people are looking to nab one of two open seats on the City Council. New council members elected in November will have their positions for four years. Four people are vying to win one of three open BUSD Board of Education seats, also held for four years.
Each candidate previously submitted a statement to the Leader. These statements can be found at outlooknewspapers.com.
Here is an abridged overview of the topics the candidates were asked about. For the City Council candidate forum, each question was given to only some of the candidates, though all had the opportunity to respond to any question at the end of the forum.

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Burbank Sees Uptick in Thefts, Minor Crime Increase Overall

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.

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Police Warn About Unemployment Claim Fraud

Since the onset of COVID-19, the California Employment Development Department has seen a significant increase in fraudulent unemployment claims. Perpetrators often use stolen identity information from national and global data breaches and exploit expedited payment efforts in the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, the Burbank Police Department said recently.
Claims identified with suspicious account information have been closed and EDD investigators are partnering with local, state and federal law enforcement agencies to prosecute offenders.
Unemployment benefits are commonly distributed on VISA debit cards, and can sometimes carry a balance of several thousand dollars. Recently, Burbank police have made several arrests of individuals found to be in possession of EDD VISA cards in other people’s names.
To help combat the increase in unemployment fraud, the BPD has reminded merchants and retailers to check identification for purchases made with credit and/or debit cards, especially those issued by the EDD. Residents are encouraged to monitor incoming mail and “return to sender” any unexpected mail from the EDD.
The best way to report unemployment fraud is to submit a fraud reporting form online, according to the BPD. Residents can also fax the form to (866) 340-5484 or call the EDD Fraud Hotline at (800) 229-6297. Penalties for unemployment insurance fraud can include prosecution by government authorities, possible jail or prison sentences, repayment of the unemployment benefits collected (plus penalties and fines), loss of future income tax refunds and loss of eligibility to collect unemployment insurance benefits in the future.
Unlawful or unauthorized possession or use of an EDD VISA card is also a crime.
For more information, visit the EDD fraud and penalties webpage, edd.ca.gov.

City Council Backs Fine to Enforce Mask Rules

After weeks of pressure from some residents — and a bit of backlash from others — the Burbank City Council directed municipal staff members to create a fine enforcing face covering guidelines.
The staff still needs to draft an order that the city manager will give, but it will be shaped according to directions the council gave on Tuesday. Notably, the order will not be administered by the Burbank Police Department, something the agency strongly opposed when the matter was raised at previous meetings.

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Coffee Cube’s Trailer Stolen Over Holiday Weekend

Photo courtesy Coffee Cube
Representatives of Burbank-based startup Coffee Cube are asking the community to keep an eye out for their trailer, which houses their mobile coffee bar and was stolen last weekend.

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.

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Possible Mask Enforcement to Return to Council Agenda

Photo by Christian Leonard / Burbank Leader
Whether to have police issue citations to those who fail to observe face covering requirements — unlike the men pictured above — is scheduled for discussion at a City Council meeting on Sept. 15.

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.”

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Overall Serious Crimes Fell, Police Stats Say

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.

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