Police offer tips for reporting neighborhood ‘casers’

When it comes to watchful residents concerned that ne’er-do-wells might be in their neighborhoods, San Diego Police Lt. Adam Sharki has three words of advice: don’t be shy.

“You know your neighborhood. You know your neighbors,” he told a gathering at the Bird Rock Community Council meeting Feb. 3 held at the Masonic Lodge.

“If you see someone that you think is suspicious, you’re probably right. You don’t want to rationalize that away. Call us and don’t be shy about it. You will never get in trouble for calling in good faith to report what you think will be a crime.

“You live in a nice neighborhood with lots of nice stuff, so you get people from other parts of town who come in to do break-ins and burglaries.... The word you want to use when you call dispatch is ‘casing’ or ‘caser.’ Someone soliciting is considered an annoyance, but if you see someone in the neighborhood that you think is up to no good, call us and say ‘someone is casing our neighborhood.’ ”

Sharki said an example of casing is a possible perpetrator knocking on doors without appearing to have a legitimate reason for doing so. “If you call the police and say ‘this person is suspicious,’ that gives us reason to stop them and question them. They would have to show us identification and we can check if they have warrants or priors.”

The Bird Rock Neighborhood Watch chair added that in January, Bird Rock saw an influx of solicitors and police were “very responsive,” but they “don’t have a crystal ball.” One number to call is the police non- emergency number at (619) 531-2000, but there could be wait times for this line.

Sharki said if a resident perceives the situation as an emergency, to call 911. “If you think someone is casing the neighborhood and could break into a house, that’s an emergency. As a police officer, I would rather you call and get through, so we can get officers rolling,” he said.

In Sharki’s experience, he said, victims of a crime are sometimes hesitant to call the police, but stressed the importance in order to catch the perpetrator. He cited an armed commercial robbery in North Park years ago where the victim, after being robbed, called her boss to see what she should do before calling the police.

Bird Rock resident Portia Wadsworth asked whether calling 911 would tie up the line and block callers with a medical emergency. Sharki explained all medical emergencies are diverted to the fire department, which would dispatch an ambulance. “We get 911 calls for house parties or parties on the beach,” he said, encouraging those who fear for actual danger to make the call.

In the Jan. 16 arrest of three male burglary suspects in La Jolla — who were found with property taken from unlocked cars belonging to as many as eight people — residents reporting a vehicle casing the neighborhood lead to their capture. In that arrest, Sgt. Erich Bennett told La

Jolla Light residents repeatedly reported the same vehicle driving up and down neigh- borhood streets looking for unlocked cars. When the car reappeared Jan. 16, residents called police and the thieves were apprehended.

In other Bird Rock news:

Midway Bluff repair update: San Diego City Council President Sherri Lightner attended the meeting to announce the Midway Bluff repair project would begin fall 2015, with allowances for the summer moratorium. The project will repair the erosion of the bluffs at the end of Midway Street, restore the viewpoint area with new fences and drought resistant landscaping.

“We now have design plans,” Lightner said. “The project will be funded with a bond that was delayed for a year due to litigation. That litigation has been resolved and we fully expect construction to start in the fall.”

Condos coming: Framing for 10 West at Bird Rock, a new development on the corner of La Jolla Boulevard and Bird Rock Avenue, is set to start in the next few weeks, said Rita Mahoney, director of planning and land development for ColRich, the construction company developing the property.

The complex will have 10 residential condos and 5,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor that is planned for two, not-yet-known businesses, but could be combined into one.

Mahoney assured the blueprint/rendering already approved by the Bird Rock Community Council and San Diego City Council would be the basis for construction.

Residents, she said, can expect to move in this fall. The one- and two-bedroom units range from 700 to 1,300 square feet and would likely be priced from $700,000. An interest list is forming at

Resident misses sycamores: Sharon McGolrick protested the removal in January of the eight sycamore trees that dotted the medians along La Jolla Boulevard. “Bird Rock looked darling with these sycamore trees and the thought of them being cut down is heartbreaking,” she said.

BRCC president Jacqueline Bell said the trees had to be removed because they were planted in error and caused unforeseen complications. “They were diseased and we have tried to treat them for a while,” Bell said. “They were lifting the pavement creating a danger for pedestrians, and created line-of-sight issues for traffic navigating La Jolla Boulevard.”

They were replaced with Crepe Myrtle trees.

Next Bird Rock Community Council meeting: 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 3 at Voce Del Mar, 5721 La Jolla Blvd.