Leave the lights on and lock the doors, Santa Monica Police reminded residents this week in warning them about "knock-knock" burglars who, as the nickname suggests, knock on doors looking for unoccupied homes.
When there is no reply, the burglars will typically check the home's perimeter and either open or force their way through doors and windows that aren't visible from the street, the department said in an email blast on Tuesday.
Similar advisories have been issued by the Los Angeles police and sheriff's departments. The LAPD has its own knock-knock task force and recently recovered more than 11,000 looted items.
There's been at least six such incidents on the eastern portion of Santa Monica in recent weeks, according to spokesman Sgt. Richard Lewis.
Earlier this year, the Los Angeles Police Department established a Knock-Knock task force, aptly named after robbers that knocked on doors to gain entrance to homes. The items were then sold to so-called “fencing operations” which buy the stolen property to resell.
Lewis said burglaries are up 31 percent in Santa Monica compared to this time last year.
During a home invasion Tuesday, the sergeant said a burglar knocked on then kicked in a door when the woman inside didn't answer.
"He saw her in there and ran off—pretty scary," he said.
Other recent knock-knock burglaries were reported in the 3000 and 3100 blocks of Pearl, in the 2500 block of 25th Street and 900 block of Yale, according to Lewis.
In downtown, there's been spikes in car and auto thefts, prompting the police department to boost enforcement there.
Overall, the crime rate is up 12 percent over last year's, Lewis said.
"That has a lot to do with the economy, and with AB 109, people are getting released early from the [prisons]," he said.
The police offered the following tips:
- Let people think you are home by leaving lights on.
- Lock all your doors and windows when you leave (even if for a few minutes).
- Every layer of security helps—deterrents like dogs, alarms, and neighborhood watch signs are recommended.
- Be aware—alert neighbors are responsible for the majority of arrests made in residential burglaries.
- If you see a crime in progress, or anything that appears to be suspicious in your neighborhood, call the Santa Monica Police Department IMMEDIATELY. Emergencies and crimes in progress: 9-1-1. Non-emergency Police Dispatch: (310) 458-8491