An alert neighbor helped police make three arrests Tuesday in a Los Angeles neighborhood that has been plagued by a wave of so-called "Knock Knock" burglaries.
The man's own Ogden Drive home in Mid-City had been burglarized only last week, and in reporting it to LAPD Wilshire Division officers, he had become familiar with the modus operandi being used.
"They just looked out of place," said the observant homeowner, who out of concern for potential retaliation asked not to be identified beyond his first name, Steve.
The suspected burglars were seen on foot, crossing Ogden Drive, and knocking on doors. One of them carried a backpack. "Another was in the driveway on the phone," Steve said.
He called police, and minutes later, saw the the trio around the corner just as responding officers arrived and detained them.
Police found evidence the young men had broken into a nearby house, according to Det. Warren Porche. All three were identified as juveniles, and it's believed they had taken a bus into the neighborhood, he said.
Investigators believe several crews of adults using similar MO have been committing burglaries on the residential streets that parallel South Fairfax Ave between Pico and Venice boulevards. Police said they are not sure why this particular neighborhood has seen the burglary uptick.
In many cases, the crew drives a "nice" car -- sometimes a rental -- so as not to arouse suspicion while casing the neighborhood for potential target homes, Porche said.
Last week, three men were arrested, but the district attorney concluded there was not enough evidence to prosecute.
Police were evaluating the situation with the juveniles to determine whether to seek charges and place them with juvenile authorities.
The burglaries have become a recurring topic of recent community meetings with Officer Adam Green, the senior lead assigned to their area.
"What happened today was textbook community-police partnership in combating a crime problem with their neighborhood," Green said.
Wilshire Station has sent residents a "burglary alert" with suggestions, including adding a home alarm system with surveillance camera, locking windows and doors, and becoming familiar with neighbors.
The alert also offered advice on recognizing possible burglars: "A typical residential burglar...is carrying a backpack...is typically working in groups of two or three individuals typically talking on cellphones and knocking on random resident doors."