The Cerritos Residential Burglary Team has arrested 18 suspects since the unit was formed in late January, including six recent arrests involving members of Southland burglary crews. But despite the early success, officials urge residents to remain alert and vigilant in helping the station combat the growing residential burglary problem that has plagued communities throughout Los Angeles County.
Residential burglaries in the city of Cerritos took a noticeable spike in January 2013, with 55 break-ins reported. Since the burglary team's inception, residential burglaries have dipped dramatically with just 11 cases reported in February. Burglary crews, which typically consists of two to four people are believed to be responsible for a majority of these crimes.
“While the team’s initial success has had a significant impact in the reducing the amount of residential burglaries in the city, there are many burglary crews that operate throughout Southern California and it is impossible to predict what communities they will target next,” said Cerritos Sheriff's Station Lt. Jeff Deedrick, who oversees the burglary team.
Six Arrests in Last 10 Days
Some of the recent arrests and break-ins currently under investigation include:
- On March 11, two residential burglaries that are believed to be related were reported in the 17000 block of Grayland Avenue between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Though no arrest have been made, the residential burglary team is following up on several leads and an investigation is ongoing.
- On March 12 at 1 p.m., a member of the residential burglary team spotted a suspicious male sitting in a car while on the phone in the 19700 block of Alida Avenue. The deputy also observed two men walking in the same neighborhood about a block away. A preliminary investigation determined that the three men from Los Angeles were part of a burglary crew, and the trio was subsequently arrested for conspiracy to commit residential burglary.
- On March 13 at 12 p.m., a resident in the 17300 block of Barnhill Avenue came home and discovered a woman inside her home. The startled suspect immediately ran out a back door with the victim's gold jewelry and a Macbook Pro laptop in hand, jumped a wall, and fled in a getaway car waiting on Artesia Boulevard. A witness who saw the suspect flee provided deputies with the license plate and the burglary team later tracked down the vehicle in the city of Lynwood. Lanisha Armstrong, 29, who was later identified as the suspect, was arrested for residential burglary the following day. Armstrong has a prior record that includes previous burglaries. The stolen items were not recovered.
- On March 18 at 8:22 a.m., a resident in the 17000 block of Grayland Avenue received notification that her home alarm system had been triggered. When she arrived at her residence, she noticed a vehicle parked in front of her home. When deputies arrived at the scene, the vehicle took off. The driver of the vehicle was subsequently pulled over and detained. James Jenkins, 19, of Los Angeles, was arrested for burglary and possession of a narcotic. Jenkins, who was the alleged getaway driver in this incident, is on parole for burglary.
- On March 19 at 12:45 p.m., a deputy from the burglary team observed a man in a suspicious vehicle driving away from a residence in the 12300 block of Rose Street. The driver was stopped and a preliminary investigation determined that he was part of a burglary crew. Members of the burglary team began walking through the neighborhood and discovered a home with a broken rear window. A deputy spotted a suspect run out of that home's back sliding door and jump over a wall, prompting a large containment to be established. As a sheriff's helicopter and police dogs scoured the neighborhood, the station placed Kennedy Elementary School on lockdown while the search for the suspect was carried out. The man who fled was not located, however the crew's driver -- Brandon Williams, 29 -- was detained on suspicion of burglary and subsequently arrested on an outstanding warrant.
Residents Must Be Vigilant: If You See Something, Say Something
While the burglary team -- which consists of special assignment operation deputies, a detective, a sergeant, a lieutenant and assistance from volunteers (VOP) -- is constantly patrolling the city in search of suspicious behavior and criminal activity, Deedrick said the team relies heavily on information and tips provided by Cerritos residents.
"It is extremely important that if residents see what they believe to be suspicious behavior, they call the Cerritos Sheriff's Station," he said. "We are proud to have the fastest response time in the county -- approximately three minutes for an emergent call, and roughly five minutes for a priority call -- but it is imperative that people call us in a timely manner.”
Deedrick said what happens far too often is that residents wait to report suspicious behavior they noticed the day before, when it's already too late.
"When we get timely information or a tip of suspicious activity, we are extremely successful in capturing the people committing these crimes," the lieutenant said. "We cannot stress enough the importance of receiving timely calls from our residents."
But What is Considered Suspicious Activity?
When it comes to recognizing suspicious activity, here are a few tips on what to look for:
- burglary crews consist of anywhere from 2 to 4 people who are typically in a 4-door car or small SUV -- vehicles that often bear paper plates
- suspected burglars are often seen driving around and "casing a neighborhood" -- scouting a neighborhood to determine the habits of residents in that area
- when burglary crews operate, the vehicle usually pulls up to the curb and one person gets out and knocks on doors to see if anyone is home
- these crews often communicate with each other via cellphone
- during the "knock-knock" tactic, if no one answers the door, the person will motion to the others and approach the house, usually jumping a side gate/wall to gain access through a back door or window
- burglars are typically looking to steal: money, jewelry, or firearms – items that can easily be sold on the streets for cash
Anyone Seen Knocking on Doors Should Be Considered Suspicious
Burglars often go door-to-door acting like they are trying to sell a service or product, or if a resident happens to answer the door, the suspect will make up a name and ask if that person is home.
"Anyone seen walking around and knocking on doors is considered suspicious behavior, and residents should call the Cerritos Station immediately," Deedrick said.
Cerritos Municipal Code 5.04.040 also requires that a salesperson or business acquire a city business license to partake in door-to-door solicitations. Non-profit agencies or organizations are also required to register with the city in order to go door-to-door.
Given the above, residents are urged to call in and report anyone seen knocking on doors in a neighborhood, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.
"Deputies will respond to every call and they can determine if the activity is suspicious in nature or if someone is operating with a proper permit," Deedrick said.
The problem arises when residents don't bother to call right away, only to find out when it's too late, that their neighbor's home or their own home has been burglarized.
The bottom line is, if you see something, say something. A phone call is all it takes.
How to Contact the Cerritos Sheriff's Station
The Cerritos Sheriff's Station can be reached at (562) 860-0044, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Residents can also call 911 for immediate assistance. The Cerritos Station is also equipped with a translation line service to accomodate non-English speaking callers.