Friday, December 31, 2010

(Tattler Best Of 2010 - #2) The Happy Hunting Ground

(Ed: Originally posted on October 22, this article detailed the robbery at my home last fall. In light of the incredibly audacious crime that has been committed at the EVG station it is very possible that criminals know this town truly is the "Happy Hunting Ground.")

So we have now joined many of our fellow Sierra Madreans in a very important statistic here in town. Yesterday at work, at around 3 o'clock, I received a call from my wife. When she called she seemed more incredulous than upset, which to me indicated the kids must have done something interesting. Like knocked over a can of paint or "lost" the guinea pig again. But nothing that fortunate had occurred. Rather we had been robbed. We lost a computer of the more traditional kind, two laptops including the one I usually type this blog on, a faux flat screen TV, a kid's cello (the maestro seemed strangely unmoved by its loss), the stereo including a turntable, some jewelry and, oddly enough, a stack of my shirts.

Now the shirt thing is kind of flattering. I enjoy the fine retro look of the Arrow Shirts collection, exclusive to Sears Roebuck. Which is, I am sure you are aware, where America shops. So if any of you happen to notice a van full of otherwise destitute young men wearing some very proper buttoned down and professionally pressed shirts, do stop by and say hello. They can keep the shirts, it's more the Mac Book Pro I'm concerned about.

The one thing they did not get, however, is my iPad. The reason being I had taken it to work with me for some reason. Tonight I am having the interesting experience of typing this article on it. Interesting in that it is married to AT&T through their legendary "3G" system. Something that gives me lots of time to rest while I'm waiting for those famously fickle bars to return. Bars in the AT&T world having the lifespan of gnats. At least here in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

So Dr. Maundry called the gendarmes, who appeared in fairly good time. Though they could have parked in our driveway, they instead chose to park their cruisers down the hill a bit. Perhaps to save us the embarrassment of unwanted attention from the casual and nosy. Or maybe they thought the culprits were still afoot and they didn't want them to know that the law was at hand.

My wife, who had been checking around place for a while, was asked to step out of the house because the criminals might still be in there. She was also told not to touch anything lest important evidence be disturbed, but it was a clearly too late for that. The officers, having seen to the safety of the victim, then charged in prepared to face down whatever dangers might come their way. But all was peaceful as the crime wave had crested hours earlier and returned to wherever it is such people go. Which could be anywhere.

Standard police work then ensued. Serial numbers were requested so that should the purloined items turn up in a commercial setting, they could be identified, the suspects apprehended, and those dishonestly acquired items returned to their rightful owners. A list of anything that might be noticed missing later was also requested, since that apparently is something that happens often. Only when the combined value of our lost items is tallied up can a dollar value be put to the crime. Which is an important ingredient in any police blotter report. It is also where this episode seems likely to end. There realistically being little more that can be done.

Tonight we've been taking a lot of calls from friends and neighbors, a surprising amount of them having been robbed themselves at one time or another. It seems that we are really in very good company, and it pretty much happens to almost everyone in town at one time or another. And that once you have your house broken into and your possessions taken, you become a member of a fraternity. One that has a lot more people in it than you might first suspect.

Which includes, one caller assured me, Sierra Madre's Chief of Police. Her house having been broken into the night she was at City Hall first being introduced to the City Council a number of years back. An auspicious start to a career in Sierra Madre law enforcement.

Like I said, we're in the best company.


  1. Sorry John. While I am not a trained professional, the theft of the cello leads me to believe that it may be an inside job.

  2. So very sorry to hear about this, hope you didn't lose too much of your information library and can put things back together again.

    Did the other robbery victims who called you also experience the loss of primarily electronic equipment?

    Keep an external backup copy of your data (monthly) locked up somewhere. Or back it all up on remote servers for a small fee. At least The Tattler is safe!

  3. I had a theft and we found the theif. They said they would take care of it. Gave them all the details galore. The couple days before the deadline checked to see if all was well, they assured me all was well. Went in the station day after to check on my case and cops totally shocked "oh, nothing happened, it is too late." WHAT!! Yeah, too late. Found out they dropped the ball and the the thief got off the ole hook a roo.

    Gotta keep on top of them. They really think they do not have to work, and it is just "stuff."

    Very smug and arrogant. You have to be your own detective.

  4. I no longer feel safe in townOctober 22, 2010 at 7:26 AM

    Having lived here for over 30 years, I have noticed the town has slowly become more open to criminal acts. The other day, one of my neighbors had a large pumpkin stolen from them. Whoever got it now has enough pumpkin for a couple of hundred pies..?
    However, I am sure it's not the "stuff" that was stolen, but the feelings of personally being invaded you are having to deal with.
    You can add another to the growing list of people robbed.
    A time existed a few years back, when you could feel reasonably safe to walk out of one's house (unlocked), knowing the neighborhood was safe to do so.
    Maybe the desperate economy, I don't know.
    For a few years, I have thought about having a silent alarm system installed, but have always put it off feeling this stuff doesn't happen in this town.
    I think your experience and those of my neighbors has caused me take a renewed interest in going ahead.
    I have pretty much lost my faith in the local police, driving around anonomously in air conditioned cars. I used to be familiar with them, but I no longer know who they are, except for one or two.
    The local police used to live locally, and had a much bigger stake in keeping the town safe.

  5. We only know you as the champion of truth in our town, but we feel your loss emotionally in our own hearts.

  6. I find it interesting that you have decided to go public with this, Sir Eric. Most people treat having their home ransacked like a dirty secret, something that keeps the crime wave here from getting the notice it should. Hopefully this will encourage more people to speak out about their experiences as well.

  7. Growth destroys community and promotes anonymity. Anonymity encourages crime.

  8. One of my neighbors was robbed the other day.
    She had left an overnight bag in the driveway by the mailbox, when to get something out of one of her cars, which was parked in the street, was gone less than 2 minuets and her bag with her purse in it was gone. She made a police report of course.
    Fortunately, she didn't have any money or credit cards in the purse or bag, so the a-hole/s who stole her bag didn't get much of value, she did lose her driver's license and some keys.
    Sierra Madre is no longer safe, hasn't been for a the past few years, dating back to the crimes committed against YES on Measure V supporters, when vandalism and even terrorism was rampant, back in 2007. Strange isn't it? Now the Crawford residence is hit?

  9. Our home was burglarized several years ago. The loss was over $32,000. The thieves had turned our home upside down. It took the police two hours to get there while our son waited on the front porch. We were able to beat the police as we drove back from Mission Viejo. They took their report. After they left I realized many other things were missing such as sports equipment, leather jackets, baseball cards, vacuum cleaner, and other items. I went to the police department to add these items to the report and I was read the riot act about not reporting everything that was missing at the time. I also had found finger prints on a closet mirror that I had cleaned before we went to Mission Viejo. The police REFUSED to come back and dust for finger prints. Nothing was ever recovered. Don't expect much from these jerks.

  10. Come on folks. Sierra Madre hasn't been safe from burglars since it started importing day laborers, gardeners, housekeepers, and out of town handymen. Yeah, sure. Your $25 an hour housekeeper may be above reproach and you may even exchange Christmas presents but that's not always the case. It may not be your gardener ripping off your garden gnomes but it could well be a truck with gardening equipment just cruising the neighborhoods looking for empty houses. Who leaves the key in a "safe" place and cash in an envelope for someone to come in and vacuum, someone who's first name they think they know, that they found on Craig's List.

    People! Development? Anonymity? Try gentrification - everybody's got a gardener and a housekeeper.

    So sorry Crawfords. But I'd bet you've got a gardener and I'll even wager that there's very few people with a view of the street that are home during the day. Count yourself lucky that your children didn't come home from school to find a robbery in progress.

  11. Just cast your gaze to the right: Sierra Madre Headlines Burglary, Domestic Violence and Pumpkin - The Sierra Madre Police Department responded to 352 calls for service.

    Yip. Right here in Camelot. Where being Neighborhood Watch Captain is guaranteed to get your photo into the Mountain Views News and a mention by Bill Coburn.

  12. Stop them before they killOctober 22, 2010 at 9:17 AM

    Look people. There is no time to patrol for burglers when you are busy citing soccer moms for going 33 in a 30. Or busting skateboarders and bike dudes in tight pants. Or preparing for your deposition in the "keep crazy Marilyn Diaz out of my locker lawsuit." Or union organizing in anticipation of the next fleecing of the City.

    Sir Eric, consider yourself lucky SMPD didn't shoot you when they arrived.

  13. It has been my experience that the SMPD looks your place over, makes some notes for their report, and fills out the necessary paperwork for the robbery victim's insurance claim. That is really all you get.

    I find it a little troubling that while they want to be paid like a real police department, they are unwilling to perform the finctions of one. But them so much of what we pay for in Sierra Madre does not quite live up to expectations.

  14. Someone on this board mentioned some home robberies up on Grandview about a week ago.
    I know a few years ago there were several thefts up in the Canyon.
    I also heard that several residents on the north west side of town had their homes burglarized while they were on vacation a few years back.

    Are the SMPD reporting these crimes to the papers?
    Oh wait, we have no real papers. Perhaps Crawford could start posting police blotters for us, the real ones?

  15. Gosh darn, I hate that, S O a B, I am so sorry that happened to you. I have a one year old HP compag, I got it for trips. Of course I got one whose screen was the biggest and now I could very easily let your family have it or use it. If you want to meet me at Sears, or Fryes I'll either buy your family a reasonable one TV or contribute mightily to a new larger faux one. I also had a mother who left me twenty heavy duty security doors, brand new she bought brand new at Angels/Oles now. I am sure you are covered financially but allow me to help in some way.

  16. May god turn their ankles...October 22, 2010 at 10:45 AM

    Funny getting robbed right now? Henchmen have been at play in the fields of Sierra Madre? A team will have a kid sit on the curb for a week and just observe the patterns of the residents. Or it could be someone in a car, you know what I mean. A highly placed MM member told me always change your pattern. They shop in the highlands an divvy up in the lowlands.

  17. word of advice, don't rely on SMPD

    they are too busy harrassing skateboarders

    or shooting sleeping men

  18. the grifter kids that show up every so often with magazine subscriptions always get my radar up

    i always ask for their permit and they always take off quickly

    next time, i will and i suggest you also ask them to hold on while you get your wallet and call the police and keep them occupied until the police show up

  19. thieves have got to know that Sierra Madre is an easy place to get away with crime

    they are probably aware of the inept SMPD

    the easiest way to rob Sierra Madre banks is to stage a couple of fender benders at each end of Grandview and every cop will be at the accidents

    seriously, we can't expect much from the SMPD, they aren't qualifed for other PD's so we are sort of stuck with one step up from Post Alarm

    now, if you park overnight in the wrong parking lot, watch out because the SMPD will be all over you

  20. The SMPD is negotiating a new contract with the city right now. Of course Mayor Mosca will want to give them everything they want. No LA Dem would ever say no to a public employees union since they pretty much own guys like him. So chances are pretty good we will get socked with a huge tax bill soon. You think people in this town will go for that?

  21. Do you have a swat team?October 22, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    12:40, They might be pushing through the 17 million dollar bond to keep their jobs now. All increases promised since 2008 have been stalled. But when times are bad, it is good to have your own police force. The sheriffs are professionals but all ready have a load of overload work. But you should have a mean lean police force, and early retirement for senior officers is being offered more and more to save city funds.

  22. You know what they say 1:06. If you want to get the job done right, look for busy people to do it.

  23. Crawford, what a rotten experience. I'm sorry you & your family had to go through it. You have many friends in this town and we will help out any way you need.

  24. I know that jumping on the SMPD is a favored sport for some, but the police can't really do much of anything in a burglary unless it's ongoing. That's the police anywhere. When my ex-wife and I had our house broken into, it was the same story, and that was in Santa Monica.
    On second thought, remembering her relatives, that might have been an inside job...

  25. The police department cannot be happy about any increase in crime.
    Or is there another, less well publicized bit of advice from the successful Lackie, Dammeier & McGill during negotiation times?

  26. The Dammeier/POA playbook calls for making the citizenry keenly aware of the dangers they face at the hands of criminals. A few well publicized robberies in no way harms that strategy.

  27. Yes too cynical 2:42 and 2:56.
    The Dammeier folks do just swell without resorting to encouraging crime.

  28. Do any of the readers know the state of our negotiations with the PD?

  29. Right, the state of negotiations.
    As in surrender,
    abject surrender,
    or surrender to the point of bankruptcy.

  30. Will the SMPD post the entire police blotter on the City site, can the Tattler download a copy ...

  31. It's not just hereOctober 22, 2010 at 3:42 PM

    Headline from the San Marino Tribune:
    Major Crimes on Rise in City by 51%, Police Chief Tells Community

  32. John Wesley HardinOctober 22, 2010 at 3:47 PM

    Trust but verify, thanks for your candor, I agree completely, but the toothpaste seems to be out of the tube. How many people in town do you know who dont have at least one questionable out of town employee. The times they are a changin.

  33. OK JWH, since you brought up Trust but verify, this ain't true:
    "Try gentrification - everybody's got a gardener and a housekeeper. "
    I have neither. Most of my neighbors don't either, so speak for yourself.
    Part of that delusion that "everybody" in SM has money that gleams in the eyes of our council majority.

  34. One of the bigeest myths about this town. Everyone is rich. It helps to justify things
    like raising water rates and the UUT.

  35. Burglaries in Altadena are ongoing, same thing, laptops, computers, jewelry. None of which you can really sell for much money. Must just be grab-and-run desperation time. At least there's not a bunch of home invasion robberies at this point in time, that would be a real crisis.

  36. I wonder what the insurance companies think about our part of the world? It is already hard to get fire and earthquake covereage. Can insurance for theft be next? Talk about a hidden tax. Or is that hidden consequences...

  37. Small electronics that can be put in a backpack, smash and enter from the back and walk out the front door--if seen leaving, sorry was at this address by mistake. Large faux flat screen, that took some hauling. I remember a Neighborhood watch at a canyon neighbor's home 35 years ago where the police officer in attendance told us our best defense against burglery was a nosy neighbor. But today, who is around during the day? Rmember when law inforcment told us to use a electric marker to mark our important stuff with our California drivers license? It is just stuff. We all just hope not to interupt the robbers in the process. Everyone I know that has been robbed take stronger steps to fortify their home after the fact and to fell safer against a possible future one. Sadly necessary, here, there, everywhere.

  38. Has anyone seen the City Council agenda for Tuesday night? The organized crime outfit masquerading as the peoples representatives meet in private session to give Sandi Levin her performance evaluation. Rumor has it Sandi wants even more money and, given the terrible mess she made of the Prop 218 water rate process, the Gang of 4 will probably give her everything she wants. The Mosca Crime Family rewards that kind of thing.

  39. You may say Sandy Levin made a mess of the Prop 218 water rate increase but if it wasn't for the backassward notification it would have passed without a murmur. It was only because of the confusion in the first few days after the notification that the residents became engaged. Sandy's mess, the Council's ignoring of the residents questions, and the staff's perseverance on the pipes issue all led to a residents' revolt.

  40. I still want to know how many patrons, property owners, rate payers, meters there really are. Maybe add all of each category and divide by four. We only have Sandy's word for what constituted 51%.

    It's not over till it's over. Come on down Tuesday night to hear the Council's direction to staff.

  41. Did you notice on the City Council agenda for Tuesday night they're re-constituting the UUT Committee. Bet they won't reappoint Hinton and Crawford. Can only mean an extension and a raise, right? POA negotiations? Need more money.

    Write to Elisa Weaver. Tell her how you feel about the police department. Tell her you're just fine with the Sheriffs if it'll save the town a million dollars.

    People, they're preparing to spend your money Tuesday night. Go to the podium and let them know how you feel about it.

  42. "Try gentrification - everybody's got a gardener and a housekeeper. "
    I have neither. Most of my neighbors don't either, so speak for yourself.

    James G, speaking for myself, neither do I. But all my neighbors do have gardeners at least. But I doubt they want to incur millions in bond debt, build bumpouts on the boulevard, build a Taj Mahal library, or pave the way for mosca to try to buzz up to Sacramento. It is not us, above or below the median income, it is mosca and buchanan and a few associates trying to wag the dog.

  43. It's not over till it's overOctober 23, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    Yes, where is the official list and what is the exact number of rate payers . . . do I smell smoke, do I see mirrors . . . figures do not lie, but liars figure . . . good morning Sandi.

  44. I just checked Coburn's site. He didn't cover last Tuesday's water rate meeting. Nothing about the Council's imminent plans to increase rates and nothing about Zimmerman's speech. A big fat nothing. Yet, I saw him there. Do you think the City told him to keep quiet?

  45. If you're counting on Coburn for news, truly you're in another galaxy. Coburn may have learned the once burned twice shy lesson after the SMVFD misled him on MacGillivray. He's a Chamber of Commerce PR type of guy. He's got his hands full with the festivities for the Winter Social Season.

  46. Why wasn't the SMVFD sanctioned on their vicious attack on MaryAnn MacGillivray? They absolutely slandered MacGillivray. If this is the kind of people we have in the SMVFD, I am in favor of contracting the Arcadia Fire Dept. for Sierra Madre.
    Susan Henderson also viciously slandered MacGillivray and so did Glenn Lambdin, Bamberger and other dirts.
    Shameful and disgusting, but that's what Sierra Madre has come down to.

  47. Include Greg Prout in the group of slanderers. Did you hear the way he took after MaryAnn during the Council's hearing on the Canyon Zone action? Shameful. Apparently we have a coven of misogynists lurking among the pillars of the community.


    But not here in Sierra Madre. Our Council and City Mgr. are reading their own press releases in the local rags.

    Sierra Madre is negotiating with the SM Police for pay raises? No austerity here. We are really an island out of touch with reality.

    Right Now! we need to:
    * reduce payrol units by 10% at City Hall
    * reduce SM Police by 6 fhe's (40 hr
    * place moritorium on consultants
    * Require all depts to reduce exp by 10%
    * Limit Police vehicles to 6 (including motor
    cycle, pick up, and suv)

    And that is for starters.

    If you doubt a "local effect" to the recession; cruise the main drags in Monrovia, Arcadia, & Pasadena and count the "+For Lease" signs. Then on a dark night count the ligts on in the newly constructed mega apartments in Monrovia & Pasadena.

    Business is in the pits and the lights are out baby! Sierra Madre wake up!!

  49. City of Pasadena. From the City Manager to the Department Heads. All are being asked to take a voluntary pay cut. After the first of the year additional furloughs will be happening.

  50. And don't forget Hail Hamilton's disguesting rant against Mary Ann at the April Council meeting. That he can show his face in Sierra Madre, let alone continue writing for the MVN proves the unsavory character of both Hamilton and Susan Henderson. Civility, indeed.

  51. I"d like to see a City Council Special Meeting on ways to save money. So what if the budget is balanced this year. They've already told us next budget cycle isn't.

  52. If you want to stop this awful city council, then stop the water rate hike. They cannot do anything without your money. If you don't pay, they're helpless.

  53. If I do not pay for my water, I thought they turn it off. Let us turn offf city hall. NO NEW COUNTERS! FIRE PEOPLE WHO DO NOT COUNT!! NO NEW METERS!!

    People in Calif are loosing their jobs and they want a counter in the office. Live with ugly! No one has complained! We complain about your dishonesty with the water shenanigans. No raises for the attorney, she makes enough and is greedy. Enough is enough. The library is sufficient for now. Leave it alone. The streets are fine for now. Leave them alone.

    No logical you fools just to spend money for the sake of spending!

    If everyone boycotted the water bill, what WOULD happen???

  54. Growing Up in Sierra MadreOctober 23, 2010 at 12:53 PM

    In October 1956 my dad and mom went to New York for a medical conference. One afternoon they decided to go to a World Series game between the Yankees and Dodgers. It was the day Don Larsen pitched a Perfect Game! My dad brought home the tickets and next day's Newspaper.

    On September 29, 1959 my dad took me out of school and to the LA Coliseum for my 13th birthday to watch the Dodgers beat the Milwaukee Braves in the tenth inning to send LA to the World Series! I will always remember that day with my dad.

  55. Back to the water rate hike - There are parallel universes colliding.
    At city hall they see an unlimited source of money, the residents, who are momentarily just too stingy and ungrateful to support them in the manner to which they have become accustomed.
    Out here in resident universe, the economy is in very bad shape, people need to figure out better financial solutions, and it is clear that city hall needs some creative restructuring, including letting people go and instituting furloughs.

  56. Sierra Madreans for Sane Financial PracticesOctober 23, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Let's bear in mind the forecast that we will not be able to fund the paramedic service in 2 years, or perhaps by next year.

  57. The idea that city services are essential, and that we need to keep paying more and more to maintain them, is a bit specious if you ask me. We can survive without their beneficence. The less money the city has, the less damage they can do. If you want to keep Pasadena style development out of town, you can do no better than to starve the beast. Oppose all rate hikes and increased taxes. They will only use your money against you.

  58. what are essential services in this town?

    is that it?
    police can be contracted out for cheaper...

  59. We need to shrink city hall down to the size of a single office.

  60. Let's see, less money for cops means policing that is not as good?


  61. Always leave your TV on even if there are no cars outside, if a burglar hears sound in the house he won't take a chance.

    The indians burn white sage, to cleanse and keep away bad spirits. Hugs Crawford Family

  62. Yeah, a single office sounds about right, but!
    Some of us recall that woman from LA Parks & Rec who came to the cryathon held by an old bad council for an old bad tax - she said if you eliminate the rec dept you have to return a cool million.
    That shut everybody up.
    In the new organization, we'll need a keep track of debt office.

  63. I don't know. The City, the Fire Dept, the Police, they all used to be in a single office. Populations about the same. Square footage and staff exploded exponentially. As did our bond debt.

  64. It would be very interesting to compare the costs of keeping a city staff, decade to decade, given your point 1:46. Static population and area for what, 60 years? 70 years?

  65. Opening statement/instructions to the UUT group when it was last constituted--in the staff report (delivered by Bruce Inmann, if I remember correctly, and correct me if I am wrong) was--do not spend any time on looking at how to reduce spending in departments as they are already budgeted--just look for more ways to raise money. If that group of volunteers were not decidated to saving the town of Sierra Madre from itself (ie the rash of big spenders in City Hall departments) they should have thrown up their hands and given up--instead they soldiered on. We must cut out some of spending ways and that must include reducing adding and adding and adding to the police force.

  66. The paramedic thing needs an objective study for type of call, and frequency of use, # of paramedics required, state standards for commplience, and real need for the service. After all it is a 5 minute haul to Medthodist, less than serious trama cases injured on the freeway.

    Was it the utility tax that was needed to put the paramedic service into SM? Shortly thereafter the residents were asked (a la Arcadia) for $65 yearly, "to get the service for free rather than the "hundreds / thousands if you did not pay the $65. What did we pay for in the first place?

    What happens if LA County Fire provides service to Sierra Madre? How would that play out compared to our "in house paramedic service" and what is the total cost of the paramedic program?

  67. Our resident committees need to meet without city staff

  68. That would just never do, 3:48. City Staff knows what is best
    for us, and we shouldn't get any crazy notions like we can think
    for ourselves. Besides, Joe would never permit it.

  69. Also, sale of fire station in the canyon was done to get $$ for paramedics that that City Council knew (and stated) would not even pay for more than two or three years. Sloppy planning and financial thinking all the way around.

  70. City Staff needs to be there in case committee members try to clap.

  71. There is a profesional fire department on Orange Grove, which I would call first if I needed assistant.

    Why in the world do we need a volunteer fire department?

    It's made up of insurance salesmen, mid level white collar thrill seekers and some who are kept around to carry kegs at the annual 4th of July overpriced cheap beer drunk fest.

    the SMFD a dangerous relic of those trying to hold on to the ficticious idea that Sierra Madre is a "small town"....with 12 million people within 50 miles....

    Mention contracting out fire services and George Mauer will come running about history, traditions and other yakkity yak nonsense.

    It be nice to see what it would cost to pay Arcadia for fire services from qualifed professionals.

    I really don't want to see some of those that I know on the SMFD department showing up to my house to fight a fire. Arcadia can cover Sierra Madre just as efficiently with full time REAL FIREMEN.

    Some I know are overgrown boys who are complete dumb axes who actually believe their own hype about being real firemen.

    John Buchanan will bluster, pontificate and peer over his glasses imploring about the signficance of having our own Fire Department and PD, but it still doesn't make financial sense and both departments are more of a public hazard than public safety.

  72. SMPD has 7 patrol officers for 24/7 coverage, what do you expect?

    Wasn't SMPD trying to hire more part time officers?

  73. Thats right 1:24am, right from the AARP applications...


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