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‘La Jolla is definitely safe,’ district attorney tells Village merchants

San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan addresses the La Jolla Village Merchants Association online Feb. 9.
San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan addresses the La Jolla Village Merchants Association online Feb. 9.
(Ashley Mackin-Solomon)

Though La Jolla’s Village has experienced a series of commercial burglaries recently, San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan assured the La Jolla Village Merchants Association that “La Jolla is definitely safe.”

There have been at least 24 burglaries in The Village in the past year. Bang & Olufsen, a high-end consumer electronics store on Girard Avenue, accounted for four of them.

“We have a huge fight on our hands for the safety of San Diego, but I see a light at the end of the tunnel,” Stephan said at LJVMA’s Feb. 9 meeting. “I see us heading in the right direction. Some of the big threats we have seen has been an increase in thefts. The retail theft trends showed people coming in with organized crews that have hammers and tools. They have specific items in mind that will resell … it’s so profitable. But we have studied this and do very well shutting down these crews.”

She did not connect those crews to the La Jolla commercial thefts. A series of residential burglaries has been linked to an organized ring.

Speaking to the broader safety issues in the area, she said “San Diego is considered … the safest urban county and city in America. We love that designation. While it hurts my heart to see crime go up, and it has gone up, we are still considered the safest.”

The DA’s office prosecutes felonies throughout the county. Stephan explained how certain thefts are classified.

A theft valued at less than $950 is considered a misdemeanor; more than that is a felony. “If you commit that crime every day, it’s still a misdemeanor,” she said. “But if there is force or threat, no matter the amount, that becomes a felony robbery.”

The value amount is the cost of the stolen goods. Damage to property is categorized separately and not factored into the value.

David Junk, owner of the La Jolla Bang & Olufsen, asked whether the streetlight cameras that were installed by the city of San Diego in 2019 but shut off in 2020 would be reactivated. Stephan replied that the cameras “were an amazing law enforcement tool” and “police had very clear limits as to when they could pull that footage, and I hope they come back.”

Windows at La Jolla's Bang & Olufsen store were broken during a recent break-in.
(Elisabeth Frausto)

She concluded that though “La Jolla is definitely safe ... I see hope on the horizon in terms of us getting more control of our safety.” She encouraged business owners to advocate for more funding for police. “Raise your voices and let people know your businesses only thrive when you are safe, your customers are safe and the community is safe.”

New LJVMA events

The board is looking to launch some new events next month, including Jazz on Prospect and the Spring Forward Storytime Scavenger Hunt.

A Jazz on Prospect concert, planned as a complement to the First Friday Art Walk, is set for March 4 at the Pacific Sotheby’s office at 1111 Prospect St.

Event coordinator Anna Danes, a Realtor who also is a professional singer, will headline Jazz on Prospect. “I’m happy to be bringing live music back to the community,” she said. “We’re going to test the waters with this show and see how it goes. The big one will be the night before the Concours d’Elegance car show with all the beautiful cars. We’re going to keep building it.” The Concours d’Elegance is scheduled for April 22-24.

The Spring Forward Storytime Scavenger Hunt will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, March 13, to correspond with the beginning of daylight saving time.

Children will have a chance to visit various merchants and other locations throughout The Village in search of clues to solve a word game. Stops will include the La Jolla/Riford Library and Warwick’s bookstore. There will be prizes and treats for all who participate.

“This is a really exciting opportunity for us,” said LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick. “Pillage the Village [a trick-or-treating event held around Halloween] is by far one of the most popular community events, and the idea of having an event in the spring was to balance our calendar with two family events.”

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association next meets at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 9, likely at the Empress Hotel, 7766 Fay Ave. Learn more at lajollabythesea.com. ◆