Posted on 25 March 2014 by La Habra Journal
By Daniel Hernandez
La Habra Journal
After an increase in crime the last couple of months in La Habra Heights, officials at the March city council meeting discussed but did not pass an ordinance approving the posting of neighborhood watch signs throughout the city.
Community watch: A mock up of the proposed signs that will be posted throughout the LH Heights community to help deter crime.
Three councilmembers felt they required more information before making a final decision on allowing the newly formed Heights Watch to post warnings to thieves throughout the city. Two other councilmembers, Michael Higgins and Kyle Miller, excused themselves from the chambers due to a possible conflict of interest. Both are a part of a foundation that supports the newly organized Heights Watch, and because of the California Political Reform Act, City Attorney Christi Hogin advised that the two councilmembers recuse themselves from the discussion. Yet community members and officials seemed to agree that posting newly designed brown and orange signs with the trademarked “Boris the Burglar” logo around the neighborhood could have an effect in warding off would be thieves. “A criminal who enters a neighborhood and sees a well-organized neighborhood watch is bound to go to an easier place,” Higgins said after the meeting. “And this is why I feel it is vital that we have an active and robust watch system in the Heights.” Members of the community voiced the same concern. “You can’t have too many eyes and ears in our community,” said resident Kathy Sauble. Although everyone seemed to agree that solutions are needed to repel theft, the council was apprehensive. One concern with the new signage is the planned whereabouts. Nobody seemed to have an answer as to where the new signs would be placed. Also, according to Heights Watch member Rich McClish, the group had not asked the National Sheriff’s Association for permission to use the trademarked Boris the Burglar symbol on the signs. The discussion for more neighborhood safety programs comes after teenagers from a local high school allegedly broke into a La Habra Heights mansion last November, partied and stole items including a $250,000 mounted snow leopard. The act, which made national news, was caught on camera. The suspects were taken into police custody during school hours and will be arraigned in court this week. But more recently, residents have had their mail allegedly stolen and ransacked from local mailboxes. “Most people don’t report it,” said Mayor Roy Francis, who also had his mail stolen.
Some residents fear the crimes are the result of gang members in the area, or criminals recently released from California state prisons because of overcrowding.
This is all unknown. But what is known are the feelings of frustration, fear and anger that victims of these crimes experience and the desire to stop the crimes from happening. Early in February, video surveillance showed a suspect calmly strolling to the front of a house belonging to McClish’s neighbor and throwing a brick through the window. The man took what he wanted from the house then calmly walked away. The same suspect allegedly returned to the same house 30 minutes later and stole more items. “We’ve gotten lazy, at least on my street, at identifying who lives on the street and who’s casing our street,” McClish said about implementing the new Heights Watch program. “Signage is critical.” Statistics released by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department show a crime upswing in the Heights, but not by much. According to preliminary data released by the LASD on its website, property crime rates in La Habra Heights rose by .2 percent when compared to 2013, so far.
There have been two reported burglaries in 2014 compared to one reported incident at this time last year. Overall in 2013, there were 33 reported burglaries and 21 reported larceny theft incidents in the Heights. So far this year, there have been three incidents, as opposed to two incidents this time last year.