We’ve been hearing about a lot of vehicle thefts, thefts from vehicles and residential burglaries in our general area this summer (overall crime is up about 12% over last year), but in the early morning hours of August 23, there was an incident on the 1000 block of S. Dunsmuir that was a bit more unusual and oddly worrying.
According to a resident of that block, who asked to be identified as “Elizabeth Parker,” a lone man “walked up and down the street trespassing, vandalizing, breaking into a vehicle and attempting break ins” at “multiple properties” over a 2 1/2-hour period between midnight and 3 a.m.
Parker reported that at her home, security cameras showed the man walk down the driveway, and turn off a front light by unscrewing a light bulb. Then – because he couldn’t enter a locked gate to the rear of the property – he went through a neighbor’s gate, climbed back over a 7-foot fence to Parker’s property, walked around the pool, peeked into windows to rooms where Parker’s children were sleeping, examined a French door, spent seven minutes by a kitchen door, then went to the back of the house, opened the circuit breaker box and turned off the main breaker to the house at 2:30 a.m. (at which time the security cameras turned off, so there’s no further video). In all, the man spent 17 minutes poking around at Parker’s property.
Parker said she and her husband woke up about 10 minutes after the power went out, and thought there must be a power outage. When it didn’t come back on by morning, Parker and her husband called DWP, which discovered the manually-turned-off breaker.
Talking to her neighbors later, Parker learned that the prowler had also visited other houses on the block, where security systems show he attempted a break-in at one window, entered another property, broke into a car and stole a wallet an other items at a third neighbor’s house, and left the ransacked wallet in the carport of yet another home.
One neighbor also said that her housekeeper recognized the man in Parker’s video. According to a post on local social media, “She saw him pushing another young man in front of our house late in the afternoon 2 weeks ago. She is sure it is the same man. She knows to call the police if she sees him again.”
The residents reported the incidents to LAPD, and provided their photos and videos. The police told the neighbors that patrols have been increased in the area, but at this point the incident is being investigated as a prowler/trespasser and not a burglary or home invasion since no homes were actually entered.
Parker also reported the prowler to local TV stations, and NBC4 ran a brief story in which LAPD Detective Joe Alves acknowledged that a “situation like this is pretty scary,” and noted that “If [an intruder sees] that [circuit breaker] box, they’re going to go for it, because they know most people have cameras and alarms.” Alves also speculated, in the KNBC story, that the increase in Wilshire area crime may be at least partially due to “the broad east-west thoroughfares that provide access to the city’s midsection.”
For Parker, the incident was especially worrisome because her home had been burglarized in June, during a termite fumigation. But even though the suspect in last week’s incident didn’t actually enter the house, Parker says it was more unnerving than the earlier burglary.
“Steal from my car, break into my home and completely rip me off when I am not home…violating, frustrating, illegal, annoying,” she wrote on NextDoor.com. “But lurk around my home and peer into my children’s windows and cut the power to my home…scary, scary, scary.” This suspect, who spent so much time at her house and others, examining entrances and systems, “seems odd and dangerous” she told the Buzz, in a way that the more standard burglary didn’t.
Despite that sense of danger, however, Parker told the Buzz yesterday that she hopes to channel the disturbances into education and community action instead of fear and paralysis.
“Each time we experience crime it is one more time for us to review what we do right and wrong and move forward with positive changes to reduce/prevent further crime,” Parker posted on social media. “We have been residents of Miracle Mile for over 25 years and refuse to let anyone stop us from feeling safe, happy and enjoying our amazing community.”
She reiterated this in conversation with the Buzz yesterday. “I’m not going to comply and sit down and go on with my life,” she said. “I’m going to stand up and organize people.” Parker advises, for starters, that people either get to know their block captains in their local neighborhood associations, or volunteer to be a block captain if there is none. In her area, she is also encouraging neighbors to join and show up at meetings of the Miracle Mile Residential Association, and to attend the monthly Community Police Advisory Board meetings at the Wilshire Division police station on the third Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. And she’s working on organizing a neighborhood meeting with City Council Member David Ryu and his staff.
“People need to get organized, all over L.A.,” Parker said. “Otherwise, you become immune to it.”
And…”the best place to start is right outside your front door.”