“Lock it, hide it, keep it.”
That’s the warning for visitors to Griffith Park following a spike in vehicle break-ins at Griffith Observatory and nearby attractions. Police say thieves appear to be targeting rental cars where people primarily leave their valuables.
With some of the best views of Los Angeles, it’s no surprise Griffith Park is a world-class destination; and with that comes throngs of tourists.
Valuable items should be hidden from plain view, officials say. Especially right now as police see a spike in smash-and-grabs in and around the park.
“These thieves are in and out real quick,” said Park Ranger J. Losorelli during a press conference. “Ten seconds, they’re in and out with your stuff.”
That’s what happened Tuesday night to Samuel Choi.
Choi’s SUV was broken into while he was out on a hike enjoying the sunset.
“I just heard shattered glass, so I turned around and looked in and realized something was missing,” Choi said. “I realized my book bag that had my laptop, my bible and a lot of my precious notes that I had written down, that’s all gone.”
An easy target for thieves are vehicles with out of state license plates and rental cars. But you might be surprised as to who police believe are behind the break-ins.
“We have been tracking organized theft groups that have been coming from Northern California,” said Detective Michael Ventura of the LAPD. “We can see where the cars were rented, they originate in NorCal, come down here, go to Griffith Park, Hollywood and Venice Beach.”
Authorities say the crime group is coming specifically from San Francisco and Oakland.
It’s a crime of opportunity that can be avoided by locking your car and hiding those valuables.
As for Choi, who is an L.A. local, he called it “a learning lesson.”