Police Form Task Force to Catch Burglars

February 16, 2005

Los Angeles: At the end of January, the Los Angeles and Beverly Hills police departments formed the Hillside Burglary Task Force to solve a spate of residential burglaries occurring on the west side of Los Angeles.
Over the last year, Los Angeles detectives noticed an emerging trend where burglars were stealing cash, jewelry, watches, and other small, expensive items from homes in a 60-square-mile area that included
Bel Air, Hollywood Hills, and West Los Angeles. Detectives from Beverly Hills noticed a similar trend in their city.
"These areas are among the safest and most crime-free in Los Angeles," said Commander George Ibarra, Assistant Commanding Officer of LAPD’s Operations-West Bureau. "Thankfully, we have not seen any trend toward these burglars entering when residents are home."
Typically, the burglars enter from the rear of first or second-story doors or windows in hillside neighborhoods. The most common times are between noon and 5 PM, when people are at work, or when people have gone out to dinner. The thieves get in quickly, grab valuables and get out. Many of the homes burglarized have had expensive security systems, but some of the systems were not turned on. One suspect was caught on surveillance tape during a burglary in the 1600 block of Marmont Avenue in the Hollywood area.
The task force has issued a flyer with the suspect’s information and car description:
He is Black, 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs 180 to 210 pounds. He has a bald or shaved head and was driving a black 2002 or 2003 Mercedes Benz SUV, ML-55 model. It has five-star wheel rims. A partial license plate read 5A_ _ _ _ _.
Investigators suspect that the burglaries are the work of three or four "crews" of persons targeting high-dollar homes in the area. No one has been injured in the burglaries.
Some of the stolen valuables have already been recovered out of state. The out-of-state connection has allowed the task force to use some of the FBI’s resources.
Advice to Residents

Secure high dollar valuables and currency
Remember to activate your alarm system and make sure a tape is loaded in video recorders
Be aware of your surroundings when leaving or coming home
Be aware of any suspicious persons or vehicles and note their description
Notify your local police of any suspicious activity

Report suspicious activity to the Hillside Burglary Task Force Hotline at 213-473-0410. On weekends and during off-hours, call the 24-hour toll free anonymous number at the Detective Information Desk, at 1-877-LAWFULL (1-877-529-3855).
This news release was prepared by the Los Angeles Police Department’s Media Relations Section. For questions, please call 213-485-3586.