The most serious crime in Los Angeles— armed robberies— rose 8.2 percent this year compared to last, police say. This means the city recorded more than 10,500 carjackings in 2017.
Now Los Angeles police have warned people about a terrifying new threat— criminals now follow victims to their homes, using their vehicle, to steal their valuables.
“It started as an uptick a few years ago, back around 2008 or 2009, but with the high-profile home invasions and homicides, you saw it pick up,” Sgt. Rudy Cuevas of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide Division told Fox News Latino.
“It becomes a follow-home crime,” he said. “One neighbor says, my neighbor has three guns…Your neighbor has a knife…We’re going to rob them, and are they going to open the door?”
Since it was re-emphasized this year, it has become the most dangerous robbery in Los Angeles, according to the LAPD.
In the Robbery-Homicide Division, the new trend has targeted victims as far north as Watts, and as far south as the City of Angels-does not matter what color car they are driving.
The cause has been described by police as the increasing availability of guns, with criminals able to get more deadly weapons without fear of consequence for purchasing a gun easily and without a background check.
The crime has become so prevalent that thieves know most people will never bother a police officer with their presence at home, particularly when they are surrounded by children.
“We have new residents, and let’s face it, a lot of people move to Los Angeles and leave their guns,” Cuevas said. “They are known to bring their guns into the neighborhood and use them when they break into people’s homes…That’s how this trend started…Somebody follows them into the yard and that’s it.”
The robberies also fall under the category of classic carjackings, in which a thief will brandish a weapon, chase the person down, and assault them before jumping in their car and taking them for a ride.
In addition to guns, some now use knives, hammers, truncheons, and hacksaws to steal items, like a purse or pocketbook, and take off.
“It was once described to me that a lot of it was the guys working on their cars that took things from people’s homes and they had somewhere to go to work on their cars,” Cuevas said. “They left these items in people’s yards, and a lot of times people look out and see that they are taking stuff and aren’t suspicious. They are disoriented, and that’s when they are doing it.”
Cuevas says that victims have become more proactive and report suspicious activity to the police.
“[The rise of robberies] was one of the conditions that led us to form a group to look at the problem,” Cuevas said. “The group meets and then we compare notes with each other.”
Cuevas was joined by a pair of other LAPD officers to discuss how they have handled these crimes. Detective Mike Kaufman, of the Citywide Homicide Detectives Unit, was joined by Detective Adejani Viegaray, of the Robbery-Homicide Division.
“We try to track down who has been involved in these crimes in the past, see if we can learn who’s involved,” Viegaray said. “In one case, the victim came up to us and gave us a different name than he had told us in the past, and that’s when we knew it was someone that we had already encountered before.”