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Pass or Fail? LAPD Grades Drivers to Educate Them about Car Break-In Prevention

The LAPD faxed a copy to LAist | Photo by Zach Behrens/LAist
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Through last week, there have been close to 18,000 reported car break ins within Los Angeles city limits, making it the city's most often-committed property crime. For someone involved in their community, this is not news. Officers at community meetings often sound like a broken record, telling residents to not leave stuff in the parked car, or, at the very least, not visible. "Lock it, hide it, keep it," is one slogan the department uses. In Sherman Oaks, Senior Lead Officer George Aguilar a couple years ago developed a campaign called "Leave It, Lose It."

Now in the Panorama City, officers are trying a new and very proactive technique. After a spike in burglary theft from vehicles, Lt. Mario Muñoz, who leads a safer cities initiative unit in a small square area of the Valley community, developed the "Vehicle Inspection Notice."

It's not a ticket, nor are any records kept; it's purely an outreach and education tool. On Tuesday, his unit headed up by Officer Kelli Pickart and a group of police cadets headed to the parking lots of 24 Hour Fitness and Wal-Mart. "We walked through the parking lot, looked into cars, thinking, 'if I was a bad guy, what would I be looking at?'" explained Pickart. If something is seen, she says "it's like begging [a criminal] to grab it."

Pickart also noted that the crime is "one of the biggest and most preventiable" in Los Angeles. And as NBCLA found out in an investigative report earlier this year, it only takes seconds for a criminal to break in, take valuables and escape in another vehicle.