A burglary crew is aggressively targeting homes in the west San Fernando Valley.
Thirty houses in LAPD’s Topanga Division - which includes Canoga Park, West Hills, Winnetka and Woodland Hills - have been burglarized since July 15 by what appears to be the same group of two to five people.
Believed to be between 18 and 25 years old, travel together and will often knock on the front door of the house to see if anyone is home before going to the backyard to enter the house. They strike between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the majority of people in the area are at work.
“In one day, they hit five times,” LAPD Capt. Jorge Rodriguez said. He pointed to a map and explained the group has cut a clear path through the community.
- Download: Download the NBCLA Mobile App
Rodriguez said if someone answers the door to a targeted him, they will generally leave, and look for another empty house. They’ve made off with jewelry, cash and electronics.
George Smith, a resident who lives in the area, was stunned to hear about the uptick.
Local news from across Southern California
“Thirty homes? In the last two weeks?” he said. “Oh my gosh.”
Smith said he is friends with his neighbors, something police recommend for community safety, but added that he may think about adding some night-time security measures.
Several witnesses reported seeing the suspects driving a white or silver Chevy Equinox SUV with paper license plates.
In a community alert, police asked residents to keep an eye out for suspicious behavior, especially in neighbor’s yards.
Anyone witnessing a burglary is asked to avoid engaging the burglars and to call 911. Anyone with information can call LAPD’s Topanga Division at 818-756-4800.