LANCASTER – A resident contacted The AV Times to voice concerns regarding a purported spike in burglaries in her west Lancaster neighborhood, although Sheriff’s officials did not have information readily available to support the resident’s claim.
“After the latest blackout we had last week, on the following day to be precise, there have been several robberies in our community,” reported the tipster, who said she lives in a neighborhood near 30th Street West and Avenue J in Lancaster. “The burglars ran away with a computer and other items from one of the homes.”
She added that her neighborhood has experienced a “great deal of commotion” over these latest break-ins, noting a series of other thefts, including a neighbor’s tailgate having been stolen from off a truck.
A Neighborhood Watch captain from the area, who would only give his first name, Julio, said he knows of at least four burglaries that have occurred near 30th Street West and Avenue J in the last week.
Thieves sought windows of opportunity by targeting homes that appeared to be unoccupied, according to Julio.
“On Thursday one house got broken into, and the occupants were away on some family event – a wedding, I think,” Julio said. “Burglars in another incident knocked on the door of a home, and when nobody answered, they kicked in the door. But then they realized there was an occupant inside the house, so they took off running. Nothing was taken from that home.”
He said that these are only descriptions of those burglaries that are known from neighbors who keep his watch group informed. “[There] could be other incidents that haven’t been reported or that we don’t know about,” Julio added.
Julio’s group, Shadow Crest, interacts with fellow members online through the social network Nextdoor.com. The “Facebook for Neighborhood Watch,” as he describes it, allows members of a local community to keep each other informed with crime and safety updates.
Formed in 2007, the approximately 120 members of Shadow Crest have defined a half-square mile of their own geographical area in west Lancaster to watch over. Julio and the other seven block captains try to hold at least two watch meetings a year, while recording their sessions to provide access to members through the network.
“Our neighborhood is pretty good,” Julio said. “We’re pretty vigilant and keep an open eye for each other. We also look out for people when they go on vacation.”
However, group participation is normally at its best when crime is on the rise, he admits.
“When there is an incident, then there is a lot more interest,” Julio said. “When the group formed, there was a lot of break-ins with our mailboxes, and that’s what kind of brought the group together.”
But Julio does not believe the recent burglaries are an ongoing problem in his neighborhood. Instead, he attributes the latest incidents to a summertime trend when thieves tend to troll for empty houses and easy access.
The AV Times contacted Lancaster Sheriff’s Station Community Relations Deputy Joshua Stamsek to validate residents’ concerns with a recent increase in burglary incidents.
“I don’t have anything that says burglaries are on the rise or that crimes are on the rise, per se,” said Stamsek. He said he would inquire with other detectives to see if there has been evidence of a recent rash of crimes in the Lancaster area.
Deputy Stamsek also said that tailgate thefts had increased about a month ago, and that the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station recommended that drivers “park their trucks up against a wall or their garage door, and to be aware of suspicious activities in their neighborhood.”
To report anything suspicious in your neighborhood to the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, call 661-948-8466. Residents may also report crimes and remain anonymous by calling Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477, or by visiting the website at www.lacrimestoppers.com.
The City of Lancaster also provides crime statistics on its website at www.cityoflancasterca.org.