La Jolla residents meet to discuss crime prevention

La Jolla residents concerned about thefts from cars and burglaries in their neighborhoods continue to band together to get to know one another, share information, and learn crime-prevention tips. In the days following a Neighborhood Watch-style meeting in the WindanSea area, residents of the Country Club community held a similar meeting.

“When anything upsetting like a break-in occurs in a neighborhood, people get really nervous,” said Neighborhood Watch captain Bradford Noble. “So one of the first things I wanted to accomplish in refreshing our Neighborhood Watch is to have people get to know each other to make each other feel safer.” Residents met in late January to exchange stories of what happened to them and their response from police.

“There were a lot of people who didn’t know what was going on … and people weren’t feeling safe ... reviving our Neighborhood Watch has been very comforting and informative,” Noble said.

The predominance of theft in the Country Club area has been items from vehicles that could assist with identity theft, such as driver’s licenses, credit cards, mail and even a passport.

“Most of this has been reported as ‘petty theft’ because the items themselves are not that valuable (cash-wise),” Noble said. “But when the thefts of these documents lead to a stolen identity, it’s a big deal.” Because such theft is considered minor, he opined the report is low on the police priorities list and does not always get investigated.

For Desiree Kellogg, her car was broken into during the night and all that was taken was her parking pass for the building where she works. “It looks like a credit card, so maybe that’s what the thieves thought it was, but everything else was left out,” she said. “The thieves were very sophisticated. We are below street level and the car was parked in our driveway. We didn’t hear anything and they used a Slim Jim, so they didn’t have to break the windows. They knew what they were looking for.”

Resident Nick Mariuz said he had a similar experience last year and told La Jolla Light, “My vehicle was broken into and they found my credit card number on a receipt on the floor in the backseat. Rather than take it, they moved it and left it in plain sight, but took a picture. They assumed I would cancel my card and order a new one, which I did, and they cased the house. My new card came in the mail while I was at work. They stole the mail, activated the card, made a fake ID with my information found on my mail and used the credit card to withdraw cash.

Proactively, the neighbors are now shredding anything that formerly was thrown away — mail that has the resident’s name, address or other identifying information on it. Residents are also pooling funds to pay for monitoring equipment, and will petition the city for better lighting on their street.

La Jolla resident scares off intruder

A resident of Via Viesta, off Hidden Valley Road, came home Jan. 28 and scared off an intruder, who then led police on a pursuit until he and an accomplice were arrested. Police recovered multiple stolen items from several victims.

The resident told police he got home about 10 a.m. and heard breaking glass and someone upstairs. He yelled, scaring off the intruder, who got into a white van parked outside. The intruder then drove off with a passenger in the van.

Some minutes later, an officer spotted what appeared to be the prowlers’ van and tried to pull it over. At some point the passenger jumped out and was taken into custody, while the van driver led officers on a pursuit south on Morena Boulevard.

The driver was later pulled over near Clairemont Drive and taken into custody. Police impounded the van, and retrieved the stolen items, some of which were returned to the owners.

PTSD being explored in La Jolla robbery-kidnapping

Sentencing has been delayed in the case of Keith Russell Luckett – who has been found guilty of kidnapping and robbery of two women in La Jolla – so his attorney can explore his military records and determine whether Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) could have been a factor in his May 2014 actions.

Luckett faces two life sentences in prison plus six years for the robbery and kidnapping with the intent of robbery of two women he abducted and forced drive to La Jolla banks so they could withdraw money.

Luckett served in combat in Afghanistan, and his sentencing attorney, Ivan Schwartz, said he needed more thorough exploration of Luckett’s personnel records to determine whether PTSD contributed to his actions. Schwartz was not Luckett’s attorney during the trial.

“I have requested additional time to look into his military deployment records, identify and communicate with his military physician, identify and communicate with other marines that served with (Luckett) and the possibility of petitioning for a revision of his discharge classification in light of undiagnosed PTSD to allow him to receive access to VA benefits and programs,” Schwartz said. “I think it’s important in a case where the defendant is facing multiple life sentences that the court have specific detailed information in evaluating Mr. Luckett’s case … He came from a good, supportive military family and to see him devolve from what appears to have been a fine young man that went into military to the situation he has found himself in, there’s something more that may have happened and I’ve reviewed the medical records and have found incidences of that should have drawn the attention of his command.”

Sentencing has been continued until March 14.

Police blotter

Jan. 25

Residential burglary, 1300 block Park Row, 2 a.m.

Commercial burglary, 7700 block Herschel Ave. 2 a.m.

Jan. 26

Motor vehicle theft (take vehicle without owners consent), Coast Boulevard/Girard Avenue, 2 a.m.

Jan. 27

Commercial burglary, 7900 block Ivanhoe Avenue, 5:30 a.m.

Petty theft/theft of personal property/shoplift, 1100 block Coast Boulevard, 11:30 a.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft, 1800 block Caminito Velasco, 10:30 p.m.

Jan. 28

Residential burglary, 2500 block Via Viesta, 10 a.m.

Jan. 29

Malicious mischief/vandalism, 2400 block Rue Denise, 12:30 p.m.

Grand theft: money/labor/property over $950, 7900 block Girard Avenue, 1 p.m.

Jan. 30

Theft/larceny, 1000 block Prospect Street, 1 p.m.

Vehicle break-in/theft, 8400 block El Paseo Grande, 4:30 p.m.

Feb. 1

Burglary, 5700 block La Jolla Boulevard, 7:15 a.m.