Neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley are on alert, with residents taking extra precautions after a rash of car and home burglaries. Police say the early release of prison inmates could be contributing to the problem. Stephanie Elam reports.
A rash of burglaries in the San Fernando Valley has some wondering if the inmate early release program could be to blame.
While it is too early in year to get stats on the people committing these crimes, the Los Angeles Police Department has noted a trend.
"Of the people that we are arresting associated with property crimes, we find that they are people who already have arrest records," said LAPD Captain Paul Snell with the Van Nuys Division. "And many of which have already been in state prison."
One resident said she feels safe and attributes that to staying vigilant.
"I advocate for … people to just be aware, have a dog, talk to their neighbors, and just kind of be in touch with their community," she said.
Police are rearranging patrols and funneling resources to problem areas. Still, Snell echoed the importance of community vigilance.
"Without the cooperation and support of the community, we can’t do it alone," he said.
But it's not all bad news. Burglaries in the Valley Bureau are down 2.5 percent, Snell said. That figure parallels a drop in burglaries citywide.
"Our crime numbers are still good, they are down," Snell said. "But, then again, if you are a victim of a crime, that doesn’t mean anything to you."
Police said they are aware of the uptick in the San Fernando Valley and stressed they need the community’s help to combat the increase.
The early release program suspected of contributing to the problem went into effect Oct. 1, 2011, and was dubbed "realignment" by Gov. Jerry Brown's administration.
The law attempts to crack down on overcrowding in state prisons by referring specified inmates to county authorities, making local jurisdictions responsible to house and monitor non-violent, non-serious, non-sex offenders.
In order to make room for those state-sentenced inmates, county jails would have to release their inmates early, said L.A. District Attorney Steve Cooley, who described the program as "early release on steroids."