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Burglaries spike in SCV

Several local areas step up neighborhood watch groups

Posted: June 7, 2009 9:58 p.m.
Updated: June 8, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Anxiety weighs upon two upscale neighborhoods on opposite ends of the Santa Clarita Valley rocked by a sharp spike of burglaries.

From Jan. 1 through the end of May, the Fair Oaks Ranch neighborhood of Canyon Country has seen more than double the number of burglaries it did last year, sheriff's statistics show. And in Castaic's Hasley Hills this year, burglars have broken into eight times the number of homes they did in 2008.

"Some people are afraid to take showers because they're afraid their front door is going to be kicked in while they're in the shower," said John Taylor, a Fair Oaks Ranch resident who started up an informal neighborhood watch group because of the burglaries. "And I don't blame them."

In the Fair Oaks Ranch neighborhood, just east of state Route 14, sheriff's deputies have received 26 reports of burglaries, compared to last year's 11. In the sleepy Hasley Hills near Interstate 5, burglars reportedly have hit 25 homes compared to last year's three.

Burglars tended to use force to break into the homes in both neighborhoods. In several cases, they kicked in front doors to get into homes, fleeing if they encountered alarm systems or residents.

Santa Clarita Valley sheriff's Sgt. Darren Harris, a spokesman for the station, said the neighborhoods have likely been hit because they are composed of nice homes, have an abundance of entrances and exits and are close to freeways.

He added that the uptick in burglaries, which has also been noticed in communities outside of the Santa Clarita Valley, has prompted deputies to step up enforcement and interaction in the area - a fact noticed by residents - and it has also caused residents to be more vigilant.

In some recent burglaries, observant neighbors called police, resulting in several arrests. Many of those arrested were from the Antelope or San Fernando Valleys, though some have been from Canyon Country.

And once alerted, dozens of deputies have shut down and searched the neighborhood. So far, several suspected burglars have been arrested in recent weeks, including many under the age of 18.

Still outstanding, however, are a man and a woman in a white Mercedes-Benz sport-utility vehicle who are suspected in at least four of the door-kick burglaries in both areas.

"We've had neighborhood meetings and so forth," said Margo Marshall, a resident of Hasley Hills. "I put double locks on my doors. Everybody's doing things now that we didn't do before.

"It's just a feeling of uneasiness because nobody seems to know how to catch these people."

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