The Los Angeles Police Department is warning visitors to Griffith Park to be extra vigilant with their vehicles thanks to the dramatically rising number of car break-ins plaguing the urban oasis. The department said in a press conference Tuesday that the area near the Griffith Observatory and the Greek Theatre—popular for running, cycling and, of course, stopping by the L.A. Zoo—has seen 121 break-ins this year, with 63 of them occurring since May, ABC7 reports.
Car thieves are targeting the most popular areas of the park, with most of the crimes occurring in Western Canyon, Vermont Canyon and along Crystal Springs.
LAPD Detective Michael Ventura spoke of law enforcement’s work using park surveillance to trace license plates back to organized theft groups from Northern California. The break-in crews are said to be traveling through Griffith Park and as far out as Venice Beach, leaving out-of-state visitors and rental cars especially vulnerable. With license plates marking the vehicles as rentals, these cars are targeted for the increased likelihood that they’re holding goods from luggage to electronics to highly-valued passports and other hard-to-forge travel documents.
With the ongoing plea for visitors to “Lock It Hide It Keep It,” Park Ranger Joe Losorelli offered a sober warning that ten seconds is all it takes for a theft to occur.
“While you should be able to leave your stuff anywhere,” he said, “that’s not the case here.” On Saturday, Losorelli noted, one out-of-state visitor had $9,000 worth of cash and property taken from her car.
In response to the thefts, there will be an increase in the presence of both LAPD patrol cars and bicycle patrols from the Ranger Division.
Even with such measures, Losorelli returned to one key takeaway for visitors: “Hide your stuff.”
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