La Jolla crime and public safety news: Muirlands homes burglarized; coronavirus cases up by over 800; more

To report a non-emergency crime, call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154.
To report a non-emergency crime, call the San Diego Police Department at (619) 531-2000 or (858) 484-3154. In an emergency, dial 911.

Muirlands neighborhood hit by multiple burglaries

A rash of burglaries has struck the Muirlands area of La Jolla recently, with at least six houses broken into in a matter of weeks. Houses on Hartley Drive, Muirlands Drive and El Camino del Teatro have been targeted since early December.

The burglars seem to have a similar method: waiting until 7 or 8 p.m., casing the house to wait for the residents to leave or to confirm that the residents aren’t home, smashing a master bedroom window, grabbing jewelry and other small valuables and breaking into safes, and leaving before police arrive. Some residents have documented through home security footage what appears to be a getaway driver waiting on the street while as many as three burglars enter the house.

One resident said “the first floor was cleaned out” and that jewelry from the homeowner’s late mother and grandmother was taken, along with some handbags and a pair of Air Jordan athletic shoes.

Another homeowner, Emmet Holden, said his house was broken into while his family was out to dinner.

The family was “only out of the house for 90 minutes, and during that time the burglars were able to break into the master bedroom by smashing a window in the French door, locating a safe that was bolted to the floor and managing to smash it open and steal all of our valuables. We suspect they departed when they heard my wife returning from dinner,” Holden said.

Both homeowners told the La Jolla Light that they wish there had been more aggressive police response and better communication to and within the neighborhood.

“It took over two hours for the police to respond to the 911 call,” Holden said. “Since then, we’ve learned of numerous similar burglaries, and we were shocked. Not only does there need to be more support from law enforcement to protect us and patrol our neighborhood, there needs to be better communication and awareness in our community.”

The other homeowner said several neighbors said they wish they had known this was going on. “They would have been more vigilant. It’s very scary,” the resident said.

San Diego police Lt. Rick Aguilar said two detectives have been assigned to the matter. “We’ve given our Crime Analysis Unit case numbers for all those cases,” he said. “We’re trying to develop a specific time and day of when the burglaries are occurring, and then we’re going to develop a plan with the combination of undercover detectives and officers to address the series.”

He added that a house can be made safer through good lighting.

Also, he said, when leaving on vacation, “let a neighbor know that you’re leaving and if they see anything suspicious, they can call you or tell them to call us. Our Retired Volunteer Services Patrol also does vacation home checks for you. So if you call in to our substation, let [us] know that you’re going on vacation and we can let our RSVPs check on your house when you … are gone.”

The Muirlands-area burglaries come as several break-ins at La Jolla businesses in the past few months have sparked concern among Village merchants and amid reports of “organized” burglaries throughout north San Diego County.

According to published reports, burglaries have happened in Del Mar, Carmel Valley, Poway, 4S Ranch, Rancho Santa Fe, Torrey Highlands, Del Mar Mesa, Black Mountain Ranch and other areas. The burglars break windows to get to the second story of a house, looking for high-end jewelry, handbags or cash, often just after sunset when the residents are not home. Police told ABC 10 that the thieves work in teams of four — three enter the home while a fourth waits as the getaway driver.

Local coronavirus cases rise by 806

The San Diego County Health & Human Services Agency posts an updated list of coronavirus cases by ZIP code, including rates per 100,000 residents. Through Jan. 11, ZIP code 92037 (estimated population 43,400) had a total of 4,096 registered cases (up by 806 from the previous count) and 9,462.9 per 100,000. ZIP code is the code of residence, which may not be the location of exposure.

The county also posts a list by ZIP code of the number of residents who have received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine. Through Jan. 11, 40,504 residents of the 92037 ZIP code had received a vaccine.

No one injured in La Jolla Shores condo fire

A fire at a residential complex in La Jolla Shores caused about $60,000 in damage, but no one was injured, according to the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department.

The fire was confined to the garage of a condominium complex that is under construction, the department said. It was reported just after 4:30 p.m. Jan. 17 in the 8100 block of Camino del Oro.

The cause was not immediately determined, and a fire investigator was assigned to the case.

Police blotter

Dec. 20

Commercial burglary: 5700 block La Jolla Boulevard, 2:20 a.m.

Dec. 24

Vehicle break-in/theft: 5600 block La Jolla Boulevard, 2 a.m.

Dec. 28

Commercial burglary: 600 block Kirkwood Place, 4 p.m.

Jan. 3

Commercial burglary: 5700 block La Jolla Boulevard, 12:58 a.m.

Jan. 5

Minor in possession of alcohol: 8300 block Camino del Oro, 11:44 p.m.

Minor driver transporting alcohol: 8300 block Camino del Oro, 11:50 p.m.

Jan. 10

Sex crime: 500 block Coast Boulevard, 12:40 p.m.

Drunk in public: 5100 block La Jolla Boulevard, 5:26 p.m.

Residential burglary: 1600 block Soledad Avenue, 5:45 p.m.

Jan. 11

Felony vehicle theft: 8000 block Calle de la Plata, 8:10 p.m.

Jan. 15

Petty theft: 5600 block La Jolla Boulevard, 4 p.m.

Compiled by La Jolla Light staff writer Ashley Mackin-Solomon from police and other local reports. Staff writer Elisabeth Frausto contributed to this report.