Forty-thousand people live in Altadena, in the foothills north of Pasadena. But, now the community known for its beauty is facing an ugly spike in property crime. Detectives say forty-four more homeowners were victimized in 2009 than by this same time last year.
"It’s infuriating! I’ve seen people that absolutely don’t want to go in their house. They ask us to stay while they go stay in a hotel for the night. Had deputy sheriffs clear the house, guys gone for hours. And they still feel uncomfortable in their own home," says Detective Rich Pippin of the Sheriff's Office in Altadena.
Worried neighbors met Tuesday night and learned from the Sheriff's department that burglaries and thefts are mostly committed by gang members, who target unlocked cars with valuables in plain sight.
And homes without curtains, so Detective Pippin warned people to dress their windows now, before it's too late..
"These guys have excuses, in case they knock on your door and you answer. Last week’s was we’re looking for our cat. Have you seen it? Another one was, my car is overheating. Can I get some water from you? Or, do you want to buy magazines?" Detective Pippin said.
One man at the meeting said he purchased a truck alarm after his parent’s and his neighbors cars were vandalized.
Detectives advised the people at the meeting to get to know their neighbors so as to promptly report gang members and others who don’t belong.
"This is their home turf. Northwest Pasadena, West Altadena. You’ve got beautiful homes with nice things in them. And they know it!" Detective Pippin told them.