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DTLA police issue theft warnings that look like parking tickets

By Hayley Fox
Published: Thursday, June 28, 2012, at 09:36AM
Jose Martinez/OnCentral

DTLA police have been issuing tickets like these to warn drivers of their susceptibility to thefts.

In order to combat the ongoing rash of theft from cars in downtown L.A., area police have been placing what look like parking tickets on the windshields of parked vehicles. These pamphlets are intended to serve as a warning to drivers who may be susceptible to crime -- but their appearance as a ticket helps get drivers' attention.

"It forces them to read it because it looks like a parking ticket," said LAPD Capt. Horace Frank.

Police patrolling on foot, Central cadets, Senior Lead Officers and Business Improvement District (BID) representatives, have been distributing these warnings to any cars that have personal items left in plain view.

The police captain said that purses, cell phones, computers and other valuables are often "sitting right there on the seats."

Last week alone about 2,000 of these warnings were placed on cars in parking structures, lots and along public streets. The tickets are printed in color and paid for by select Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) in Downtown -- and look remarkably real.

This is a sample from Northeast Division of what the tickets look like:

While the outside looks like a legitimate citation, when the ticket is opened up it includes crime-stopping tips such as parking your car in well-lit locations, rolling up all car windows and putting all shopping bags in the trunk.

Last week in Downtown there were 29 burglaries/thefts from vehicles, a number that Frank thinks can be reduced if people pay attention to all portions of the "lock it, hide it, keep it" campaign the police department has been trumpeting. Frank said drivers have been doing a good job of locking their cars, but still not concealing their valuables.

Although Downtown police began this operation about three weeks ago, other divisions have also been adopting this technique -- including the Newton division in South L.A., where Frank got the idea from.

Newton Capt. Jorge Rodriguez called thefts from cars the the "Achilles' heel" of his community, and emphasized the need for the public to take responsibility for protecting their own items.

"We can only help those who want to help themselves," Rodriguez told OnCentral this month.

Frank said DTLA police will continue to distribute the warning tickets to increase awareness among Downtowners. He added that in addition to car thefts/burglaries, the theft of unattended property is also an ongoing issue in the area.

Many people get up to use the restroom at a coffee shop or restaurant and leave their purse, phone or computer sitting at their table.

"People really need to realize that as much as you might like to think this place is great -- and it is a wonderful city -- unfortunately we have people that prey on that kind of stuff," said Frank.

While it may feel safe to leave valuables when there's a lot of witnesses around, there are no guarantees these people are paying attention to your belongings -- but the "bad guy" might be, said the police captain.

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