[Update: Captain Jeffery Bert called to give more details on the break-in numbers. See them below this story.]
It shouldn't surprise anyone, but stealing from vehicles is a big problem in Los Angeles. So big that in the first six months of 2013, there had been over 13,000 reported break-ins. The crime happens everywhere: outside homes, in parking garages, on busy boulevards, and at parks.
For Captain Jeffery Bert, who oversees LAPD's Northeast Division, there's one large park that he estimates makes up to one quarter of his break-in problem: Griffith Park. "There are lot of parking lots, unattended cars when people are at the zoo, out running and hiking," he said, "and a lot of cars get broken into."
Between January and July, 721 car break-ins were reported in Bert's division, which covers a myriad of neighborhoods, including Silver Lake, Cypress Park, Eagle Rock, and Highland Park. But for the last two weeks, break-ins at Griffith Park noticeably decreased.
The timing seemed too perfect. 18 signs had just been installed around the park. They ask visitors to abide by the LAPD motto, "Lock it, hide it, keep it."
It's simply too early to tell, but Bert says that this education campaign is just one strategy in the toolbox against this all too common crime.
The signs, at a cost of $800, were funded by Griffith Park's biggest fan at City Hall, Council member Tom LaBonge. "This is a public awareness campaign," he said. "Don't give anyone an invitation to break into your car."
Update: Captain Jeffery Bert said the break-ins occur almost exclusively at the parking lots of the zoo, the two golf courses, and the merry-go-round, the latter which is often used by hikers. There have been 76 break-ins within the park in 2013, which equates to about five per week. There has been one break-in since the signs were installed.