During the July 1 Bird Rock Community Council meeting, acting Northern Division Police Lt. Ernesto Servin addressed recent crime trends and recommended action to prevent and report those crimes. Although he focused on vandalism, vehicle thefts and burglaries, questions about summer parties and noise complaints were also put forth.
Servin said vandalism and graffiti crimes are challenging to solve. “It is really difficult to identify suspects unless there’s some physical evidence, a witness who actually sees the crime occurring, or anything left behind by the perpetrator,” he said.
In the event someone sees the act as it is happening, Servin said police classify that as a “crime in progress,” so witnesses can call 911.
“Make sure you are in a safe location where (the perpetrators) cannot hear you; and call us with as much information and as detailed a description as you can,” he said. “Sometimes people get irritated because of all the questions police ask ... but we ask those questions for the officer’s safety and for your safety as well. We want to identify the suspects and determine if they are armed or if they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
“For the officers responding to these calls, it’s like they have a blindfold on, so we want to paint the best picture we can for them.”
Potential questions might include: What wall are they tagging? What type of building is it? If it’s glass, do suspects have an etching instrument that could be used as a weapon against the officer?
If someone notices graffiti or vandalism after the fact — as did at least one attendee — they are encouraged to report it on the city’s website:
They can also submit evidence, such as photos, to Northern Division. “Depending on the damage, it can be classified as a felony, so file a report with pictures and we’ll include it in our report,” Servin said.
Bird Rock resident Joyce Snell, who was not at the meeting but spoke to
La Jolla Light
, said the sea wall at the end of her property was tagged with large letters visible only from the ocean.
“This is not your typical graffiti perpetrator, someone took time to do this,” she said. “Surfers were calling me asking if I knew this was on the sea wall.” She contacted the city soon after the alerts, but has decided to personally cover the cost to have the sea wall painted.
Thefts and Break-ins
In the weeks leading up to the meeting, there were three vehicle thefts in Bird Rock over a two-week period, which Servin said seemed high, so he looked into it. In all three cases, the keys were left in the vehicle.
In one case, the windows were rolled down, which combined with keys being left inside, he said, is an “invitation” to take the car. Another incident involved a burglar entering the garage, where the car was kept. In a third incident the vehicle was recovered the same evening it was taken.