Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association Semi-Annual Meeting Focuses on Area Crime

LAPD Olympic Division Senior Lead Officer Joe Pelayo, Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association President Charles D’Atri, and LAPD Wilshire Division Senior Lead Officer Dave Cordova (tuning in from his car) spoke at Tuesday night’s Zoom-based semi-annual meeting of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association.


Crime is up across the city this year, and two of our local LAPD Senior Lead Officers confirmed at Tuesday night’s semi-annual meeting of the Larchmont Village Neighborhood Association (which represents residents and businesses in the area bordered by Arden Blvd., Melrose, Wilton Pl. and Beverly Blvd.) that our local neighborhoods are no exception. Burglaries, robberies, thefts from motor vehicles, and catalytic converter thefts, they said, are all going strong.

LVNA president Charles D’Atri opened Tuesday night’s meeting by welcoming neighborhood residents, and then quickly handed things off to the neighborhood’s two Senior Lead Officers, Olympic Division’s Joe Pelayo (who oversees the part of the neighborhood east of Gower St.), and Wilshire Division’s Dave Cordova, who works in the western half of the neighborhood.

Pelayo began by saying that although the last week or so has been fairly quiet, residential burglaries are definitely up this year in the Larchmont area, and most of the perpetrators have not yet been caught.  Pelayo said robberies are up this year as well, including a particularly notable one on Van Ness Ave., near Robert Burns Park, in which a teen or young adult on a skateboard pulled a gun on a couple walking along the street, stole their wallets and wedding rings, and then rode away.

Pelayo said the relative quiet of the last week or so may be due in part to the cooling weather, as well as the recent time change and earlier darkness in the evening.  To help people stay safe, he advised residents not to walk alone in the neighborhood, especially after dark, to drive instead of walk to Larchmont Village shops and restaurants in the evening…and if someone thinks they’re being followed as they’re driving home, head instead to someplace public like the Hollywood police station, which isn’t far away.

Next, Officer Cordova reported that while burglaries are actually down in his Basic Car area, “numbers don’t lie,” and overall crime is definitely up.  Unlike in Pelayo’s area, however, Cordova reported that there were two burglaries in his part of Larchmont last week, and that there have been about 20 more crimes of all kinds than last year, including six more robberies.  Cordova said that citywide, thefts from motor vehicles and thefts from individuals (such as having their phones or computers stolen when they turn their backs on them at a coffee shops) have both had a “huge increase” this year.

Cordova said the police are working hard to bring the numbers down, and that “any crime is too many,” but residents need to be vigilant too, and can help prevent “crimes of opportunity” in several ways.  First, he said, don’t keep large amounts of cash in your homes (or if, business owners need to do this occasionally, get a safe and make sure it’s fully bolted in place), and don’t wear expensive jewelry like Rolex watches when out and about, because thieves watch for things like this in affluent neighborhoods.  And Cordova, too, advised people to always walk in groups, especially at night, “especially the ladies,” and to always be aware of their surroundings.  Finally, he reminded everyone to always report crimes and suspicious activity, so the police are aware of it and where it’s occurring.

After the officers’ reports, many neighbors shared stories of the crimes they or their neighbors have experienced this year, with one resident saying seven homes on his block have been burglarized recently.  Two other residents said their cars have been hit twice by catalytic converter thieves, and others reported that prostitution-related activity on the streets near Western Ave. has been ramping up again.  And still others, such as Steve Cohen, former owner of Village Pizzeria, simply lamented that one of the things that has always made the Larchmont neighborhood special is the ability to walk everywhere safely…which no longer seems to be true.

Going back to  catalytic converter thefts, Cordova said most are committed by professional crews who can get in and out in about 30 seconds, so they’re difficult to catch.  And also, he said, penalties are pretty small right now for property crimes, which means  people get back on the street pretty quickly, even when they do get caught.  Cordova said there are some aftermarket devices you can buy to help secure catalytic converters, but several residents reported that they had converters stolen even when using the devices, and also after having their converters etched with ID information by LAPD.  Finally, Pelayo, who drives a Toyota Prius, which is one of the most frequently targeted cars for catalytic converter theft, said he always makes sure to back into his driveway, and that other cars in the household park behind his in the driveway, to provide a further deterrent.

Turning to the prostitution issues near Western, D’Atri noted that the problems abated significantly a few years ago when signs were posted prohibiting right turns from Western into neighborhood streets after 10 p.m.  He asked if these restrictions were still being enforced.

Pelayo said LAPD does patrol Western Ave., and does make arrests, but he would also like to see the motor officers put together a task force to target the prostitution activity, which he said has been particularly “out of control” on Manhattan Pl., just west of Western.  One problem with patrolling the residential streets, Pelayo said, is that the streets they’re too narrow for patrol cars to pull over other vehicles, so they have to try to catch people on Western instead.

D’Atri noted that most people engaging in illicit activities on the residential streets are also violating the local permit parking restrictions, so he suggested the city could make lots of money, and also help with the prostitution issues, just by writing a lot of parking tickets.

In addition to the LAPD officers, Terry Segraves, from SSA Security, a private security and patrol company that works in the neighborhood, explained that to arrest someone for prostitution now, an officer has to be undercover and be made an offer of sex for money by the other party.  Police used to be able to more easily arrest such suspects for more minor crimes like loitering, he said, but that’s no longer allowed.

Segraves agreed with the LAPD officers that crime in the area is definitely up this year, but he also noted that this has happened in the past, and it’s just a sign of the times and the larger issues facing the city right now.  He did agree, however, that thefts from cars is one of the biggest issues right now, both locally and across the country, but very often people leave their cars unlocked, so it’s easy for thieves to grab the items left inside.

Segraves said his company has three cars that randomly patrol the area bordered by Highland Ave, Melrose Ave., Wilton Pl., and Wilshire Blvd., and they respond to all burglar alarms within 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 minutes.  Residents interested in SSA’s services can subscribe monthly, or just have the company come in to evaluate a home’s security and give tips for improvement.  This service is provided free to monthly subscribers, Segraves said, and for an hourly fee to non-subscribers (the review generally takes about two hours on site, with additional time after the home visit to write up a report for the customer).

Finally, Segraves reported that a couple of times recently, he’s seen some older residential security system control panels taken off the wall by thieves, and left in a sink full of water…which keeps them from sending signals to the alarm company after someone breaks into a home.  He advised residents to check their alarms and consider upgrading to newer systems with better communications systems that aren’t so easily thwarted.  (Also, in a similar vein, one resident at the meeting reported that she recently discovered her older alarm system used 3G wi-fi networks to communicate with the alarm company, which are no longer in use, so she needed to upgrade for that reason, too.)


Other Business


In other business on Tuesday, LVNA Land Use chair Karen Gilman reported on two big developments planned for the area.  The first is a new 21-unit apartment complex at 500 N. Larchmont Blvd. Residents appealed the project, Gilman said, but lost the appeal, making way for the developers to proceed.  The second project is a new entertainment-oriented office complex at 6101 W. Melrose (the NW corner of Melrose and Seward).  Gilman reported that four local neighborhood associations, including the LVNA, banded together with legal counsel to negotiate with the project’s developers, and eventually won a significant reduction in the building’s height (from 5 stories to 3 along the Melrose Ave. frontage), emphasizing how important it is for neighbors to work together on these issues.  Gilman said the LVNA will contribute to the legal fees for that effort, if requested to do so.

Gilman also gave residents a heads up about the recent revisions to the Housing Element of the city’s General Plan, also known as the Plan to House LA, which enshrine state-mandated goals for new housing production.  She said the plan includes recommendations for which kinds of new housing might be built in specific places around the city, and it targets the northern part of Larchmont Blvd., between Beverly and Melrose, among many other areas, for possible increases in housing density.  [Note: see our recent story recounting the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Land Use Committee’s discussion about this. ]  Several other residents also urged neighbors to look into the potential changes, which are currently outlined in a series of interactive maps created by the Planning Department.  So far, there are no mandated areas for new construction, just locations identified where certain kinds of development could happen, but D’Atri urged people to tune into the process as early as possible, so neighbors can engage early on any specific projects that are proposed.

D’Atri also reported that it looks like the neighborhood will soon be represented by a new City Councilmember, Hugo Soto-Martinez, who was declared the winner of the seat this week, and said it will be good to get to know the council office’s new field deputy for the area as soon as possible.

Finally, resident Chris Shanley announced that he would like to launch an effort to rename the small stretch of Arden Place, which connects Vine St. to Arden Blvd., as “Tom Carroll Place,” to honor longtime “mayor of Larchmont” Tom Carroll, who passed away recently.  Response to this suggestion was universally positive, and D’Atri said he would reach out to the outgoing CD 13 field deputy, George Hakopiants, who has been very helpful to the neighborhood, to find out how this can be done.  He said he would put the issue on the agenda for the association’s December board meeting for further discussion.



Residents of the Larchmont Village neighborhood gathered online for their semi-annual meeting on Tuesday, November 15.


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Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller
Elizabeth Fuller was born and raised in Minneapolis, MN but has lived in LA since 1991 - with deep roots in both the Sycamore Square and West Adams Heights-Sugar Hill neighborhoods. She spent 10 years with the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council, volunteers at Wilshire Crest Elementary School, and has been writing for the Buzz since 2015.

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