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Police Report Increase in Car Burglaries, Personal Theft in Encino

Encino Neighborhood Council votes to oppose an alternative cellular tower on the Mulholland Scenic Parkway area.

While Encino residents and visitors are working out at health clubs, criminals are breaking into cars and stealing personal valuables.

Officer Robert Trulik of the Los Angeles Police Department, told members of the Encino Neighborhood Council on Wednesday that four or five car burglaries were reported this month with the bad guys breaking windows and taking purses and laptops.

“If you care about your personal valuables lock them up where they can’t be seen,” Trulik said. “If you don’t care about your valuables, well, keep your windows down.”

Trulik spoke to the board and a handful of stakeholders in the Encino Community Center Auditorium.

Trulik said personal theft is also on the rise in Encino.

He said people have a tendency to use their cellular phones and laptop computers as table markers at restaurants and then walk away.

“Be mindful of your personal items,” Trulik said, adding about 18 electronic devices were stolen in November, 10 of which were left on restaurant tables. “Theft is the No. 1 crime," he said. It’s not a police department issue when you create an environment for theft." 

He said one resident lost two guns, because they were in an unlocked car in the driveway.

Trulik said the gun owner said he, “thought he lived in a safe neighborhood.”

Trulik also reported that a gun buyback program offering an exchange for gift cards netted about 2,000 weapons, including 91 assault rifles.

Gun collections sites were downtown Los Angeles and Van Nuys.

At the Masonic Temple in Van Nuys, roughly 1,000 guns were handed over to police who gave out $60,000 in gift cards in two hours and then had to shut down, Trulik said.

Some, however, surrendered their guns anyway.

Overall, assault rifles and an Uzi machine pistol with a silencer were turned in, police said.

The police department stepped up its annual Mother’s Day gun collection in light of the recent shootings at a Connecticut elementary school where 20 students and six teachers were slain and two firefighters responding to a house
fire in upstate New York were ambushed and killed with two others severely injured.

The city's fourth annual Gun Buyback Program, in May, netted 1,673 firearms, a four-year low.

Trulik said the police bought $60,000 in gift cards with private donations. A matching donation was given toward the downtown collection.

In other action:

-- The 14 members and alternates approved spending up to $420 on business cards for board members.

-- About 30 minutes of the two-hour meeting was spent discussing a proposed, new 43-foot wood monopole with antennas adjacent to a property on Mulholland in the purview of the Mulholland Scenic Parkway.

Two residents oppose Verizon’s request to place the pole on the north side of the street saying it blocks northern views of the Valley.

The Los Angeles-based Kramer Telecom Law Firm, P.C., was hired by private individuals, to determine an alternative to Verizon’s proposal.

Attorney Natalia Shparber gave a presentation that offered what she called a “less intrusive” alternative by placing the pole on the south side of the street.

That would place the pole in Brentwood, but a stakeholder from that area objected to the “less intrusive” alternative in her backyard instead of Encino’s and asked that Verizon put the pole underground instead.

The Encino Neighborhood Council voted 11-3 to oppose an alternative site on the south side of Mulholland, referring the matter back to the Board of Public Works and requested a postponement of the Board's scheduled Jan. 7 hearing.

The three Encino Neighborhood Council members opposed the motion, Gil Spiegel, Gerald Silver and John Tashtchian, because Verizon representatives were not at the meeting and their point of view was not heard.

-- The Council had to defer one-third of it's packed agenda to its next meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 23.

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