Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Crime Stats & Other Concerns of Local Importance

After being ripped off a few weeks back we went downtown and filled a Public Records Request Form with the Police Department to find out just how unique our misfortune had been. Was ours a one of a kind woe, or had we joined with many others in being robbed? In our case in the middle of the day.

It turns out that we now belong to a rather well populated little society here in Sierra Madre.

The information we received from having made that request was reasonably stunning. During the first 10 months of this year alone there were 46 break-in robberies in the City of Sierra Madre. 27 of them were residential burglaries, with the other 19 involving autos.

If you figure there are around 4,000 residences here in our little city, that puts your chances of finding either your home or car ransacked at a little over 1% within a 10 month period. Which are actually fairly strong odds, and indicate that someday you too could be the victim of such a crime.

Why we are such a destination point for thieves is something that needs to be looked into.

Unethical Journalism ... In Sierra Madre?

Yesterday I received a complaint about a story that appeared on the Sierra Madre Patch website. It wasn't so much about what was said, or the way the event in question was portrayed. Rather it was about how the information for that particular piece had been obtained.

Apparently the Patch reporter in question had attended the General Plan Town Hall Forum with the intent of covering the shindig for his site. This reporter wandered from person to person asking questions of many of the attendees, gathering the information necessary to file a report on this event.

The only problem being that this individual did not identify himself as a news reporter to at least some of the folks he spoke with. Rather he acted as if he was just another attendee interested in finding out what was going on in the community. It was only later when his report appeared on the Sierra Madre Patch site did the concerned parties realize they had been interviewed for an article. Something that happened both without their knowledge or permission.

The San Jose Mercury News supplies its reporters with an Ethics Policy sheet that is designed to make certain those who represent their paper are both above board and honest in their dealings. And under the rubric of "Misrepresentation" the paper's ethics policy has this to say:

"Under ordinary circumstances, reporters or photographers ought to identify themselves to news sources. There might be times, however, when circumstances will dictate not identifying ourselves. Only the Executive Editor or Managing Editor may approve such exceptions."

It would be understandable for a reporter to not let their identity be known if they were talking to an organized crime overlord, or someone from a dangerous drug cartel. Certainly those would be circumstances where you'd want your true purpose to remain a closely guarded secret. But doing so when interviewing people from town who have gathered to discuss community planning concerns?

Doesn't seem at all ethical to me.

People Just Don't Want To Pay Their Way

Everyone is quick to blame government when it spends itself into absurd amounts of debt. Politicians are routinely excoriated for their free spending ways in America these days. The successful Republican strategy to take over control of the United States House of Representatives was based on just that, throwing out the big spenders.

But is it completely the fault of politicians that they spend as much as they do? Could it be that at least some of the blame should fall upon their constituents as well?

On the Orange County Register's "Total Buzz" website (dated 11/12) there is the following report:

A new Associated Press-GFK Poll shows 53 percent of Americans want to preserve Republicans' tax cuts for all taxpayers - and 58 percent want to keep Democrats' health care reform.

So I need to ask you, how can a country afford to provide health care for all while at the same time cutting everyone's taxes? Especially at a time when we're running a trillion dollar a year deficit? According to this poll we have apparently become a free lunch society.

People need to begin realizing that their addiction to government services doesn't come without a cost. And if they are not willing to pay their fair share of the burden that cost will quickly become a destructive one.

Better to do without unfunded services altogether than force our various governments to provide things people don't feel they should have to pay for.

A Brief Follow-Up To A Story From Yesterday

In yesterday's mishegoss we talked a bit about an appeal letter recently sent out by the Sierra Madre Police Association for charitable donations. Or at least donations, the charitable part being a bit unclear.

We'd suggested that this missive had a certain generic feel to it, and that perhaps it was some sort of form letter provided by folks far beyond the ken of the local luminary whose name graced it. And it turns out that is exactly the case.

A particularly sharp-eyed reader found two other strikingly similar "Police Association" letters on the internet. One such cash appeal, which comes from Arcadia, can be accessed by clicking here. Another letter, coming all the way from fabulous Escondido, can be found here. Feel free to compare those two with the Sierra Madre version by clicking here.

The same reader also supplied an insightful Orange County Register article on the phenomena. Click here to access a very interesting story on the nature of Police Association soliciting.


  1. Thanks, Tattler, for bringing us your perspectiveNovember 17, 2010 at 6:35 AM

    Of those 19 autos burgled, just how many were unlocked with valuables in sight? A very high percentage I'd suggest just by reading the police reports in the local rags. Yes, I confess, I do read 'em.

    Of course that doesn't make it okay to be burgled but it does suggest that Sierra Madreans could take measures to "harden the target" as they say in the media.

    I like seeing the stats. I'd also like to see just how many alcohol and drug related arrests are made in Sierra Madre during that same time. I like it that "Patch" lists a goodly number of police incidents. I guess I just like to see what the SMPD is doing and what makes them want to drive slowly up and down, all around town.

  2. One of the first questions police will ask upon arriving at a robbery scene is "was your door locked?" And many people will answer that they think so, but they aren't 100% sure. It is an interesting procedure that offers predictable results. Something that helps to shift the onus from a PD that fears having its competence questioned, and firmly upon the party that usually takes the blame, the victim.

  3. I wonder if Terry Miller, the ubiqutous editor/photographer for the Weakly, asks everyone visible in his photos for their permission before he snaps the shutter... He was at the YAC on Sunday, too. It's an interesting point you make Sir Eric, for a blog that exits on the anonymity of its contributors. This one included.

  4. Speaking of snapping shutters, Stephens has an update on a very dark incident that happened in Sierra Madre a few years ago - Awest. Remember him? A bit more about his egregious crime against a very young girl and the court's assessment of how much it will cost him. Probably a drop in the bucket if you take into account what he made selling kiddy porn, but some justice for the child and her family nonetheless.

  5. As far as I know none of the anonymous posters on this site are salaried reporters that work for one of the larger internet based corporations.

    Raises another question, though: if a reporter works undercover, are they also a spy?

  6. In the Awest case, was the door locked?

  7. Does seem unfair - the patch won't let you comment without giving them a name and address but there reporter can ask opinions without revealing who he is.

  8. On those police fund raising letters, that Joel Swintowski guy is quoted on all 3 of them. Does this mean he isn't really from Sierra Madre?

  9. If we're regular contributors to the Tattler can we get press credentials for the big event? I'll volunteer to cover the Royal wedding! I can take pictures.

  10. Joel Swintowski lives in the bottom righthand drawer of Dieter Dammeier's office desk.

  11. Yes you can, 7:21. But your first assignment is not the royal wedding. Your job today is to track down Joel Swintowski. We need to know how he can live in so many different towns at the same time.

  12. I've been watching the spend watch fairly closely. We're way over the general fund heading toward the total budget including ALL of the funds and it only represents six months. Where's the money coming from?

  13. Joel Swintowski is not a registered voter in Sierra Madre.

  14. If you go to Google and type in the name of Joel Swintowski you'll discover that he testifies on behalf of the Police Associations in a whole lot of towns. That dude gets around!

  15. Maybe Mr. Swintowski leaves his car door unlocked all over Los Angeles County and gets robbed a lot. He sounds like a "soft target."

  16. For over 100 years, the idea of having to lock one's doors and windows, was not considered as part of the crime. otherwise if you don't, you are responsible for it.
    I see this is a ghetto mentality. I suppose next it will be your own fault, if you don't have a burgler alarm, steel bars on your windows, and a shotgun.
    What ever happened to the idea that theft of one's property does not matter whether the door is locked or not.
    I guess we should all install spiked fences, security cameras, alarm systems, a shotgun, etc. to being considered not "at fault".
    It would certainly make the police's job easier.
    I suppose it would keep the crooks out, but would you like to live that way.
    Perhaps, the police could do more to patrol neighborhoods, and stop to question those who are not residents, to find out why they are here?

  17. Inquiring Tatts want to knowNovember 17, 2010 at 7:59 AM

    Business Entity Detail


    Data is updated weekly and is current as of Friday, November 12, 2010. It is not a complete or certified record of the entity.

    Entity Number: C2010787
    Date Filed: 05/14/1997
    Status: ACTIVE
    Jurisdiction: CALIFORNIA
    Entity Address: PO BOX 11899
    Entity City, State, Zip: NEWPORT BEACH CA 92658
    Agent for Service of Process: GRANT A. READER
    Agent Address: 28618 BERWICK LANE
    Agent City, State, Zip: HIGHLAND CA 92346

    * Indicates the information

  18. Inquiring Tatts, State Bar,November 17, 2010 at 8:03 AM

    This member is active and may practice law in California.

    See below for more details.

    Profile Information
    Bar Number 158457
    Address 7231 Boulder Ave #811
    Highland, CA 92346 Phone Number (909) 271-7591
    Fax Number (888) 239-4468
    e-mail huouiko@yswiy.eduythadi@ewtnrlm.comgrant.reader@nepmail.comptmdfmw@wldd.orguueoec@gylsn.govjtqghqah@dpmlrrp
    District District 6 Undergraduate School Rio Hondo Coll; Whittier CA
    County San Bernardino Law School Univ of LaVerne COL; Ontario CA
    Sections Labor & Employment

  19. The above state bar info is on Grant A Reader, the site won't let you copy his number, he is who legally represents New Equity as agent for process of service sorry

  20. And who is Grant A Reader?

  21. I'm confused tooNovember 17, 2010 at 8:46 AM

    And what is New Equity?

  22. From Jig Saw

    Adam Benwell
    Director of M I S
    New Equity Productions, Inc.
    3848 Campus Dr Ste 112
    Newport Beach, CA
    Inc New Equity

    Yellow Pages

    Productions Inc New Equity
    Be the first to review
    2207 Anniversary Ln
    Newport Beach, CA 92660
    Hours not available. Please contact Productions Inc New Equity at (949) 645-0537.
    Motion Picture Film Distributors & Exchanges
    In Business Since
    (949) 645-0537

    The company has used Productions Inc, New Equity and New Equity Productions, Inc. Not really kosher, suggests financial "problems" but
    mostly used in bankruptcies, one company goes down, but they want to keep the clients, and reappear with similar name. Did you see the web site of New Equity Productions, Inc. I would call the attorney and ask about swintowski.

  23. 8:45 and 8:46 those are your POA mailing folks, did you read the links in Sir Erics Story?

  24. New Equity is the marketer for the POA solicitations

  25. Can the editor please link to the New Equity Productions, Inc Website. So everybody can see how they keep their information if they do contribute and how they prevent fraud by possibly committing fraud.

  26. Grant is apparently the new equity process server.

    The point is the police fund raising is shameless.

  27. The moderator at 7:25 said to find Joel Swintowski, 8:45 and 8:46.

  28. 9:05 agent for process of service means that if you have to sue a corporation and they are not forthright with information, it means thatattorney represents them not that he is a process server. You can for a fee get any corporations articles of incorporation, ie officers etc, for the California Secretary of State. The info above is what you get for free.

  29. Ahhhhhhhhhhhh, the transparency of public information, how refreshing and helpful. Next time the cops call, I can just tell them to have a nice day.

  30. Formerly known as 905November 17, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    Then if the agent for process of service uses the services of a process server then Joe's "process" for serving the developers will certainly be being served.

  31. "Unwanted public attention" is a term for what can happen to people who are photographed/interviewed without being asked for their consent.
    On the other hand, the town hall forum was open to the public and in public and by the public, so it seems like pictures of the public are OK. Once people's names start getting used though, isn't it necessary to get their permission? And I agree Mod that it is unethical for reporters not to identify and clarify what they are doing.

  32. If the guy did not wear a press badge, or say who he was up front, it was a serious lapse in judgement.

  33. Does anyone actually read the Patch?

  34. 6:54, false analogy.

    When I post on this thread:
    I have not taken that information from anyone without their consent. It is my information and it's going out to y'all.

  35. There are so many burglaries in Sierra Madre because we are famous for being too trusting.People who are economically challenged come through town all the time, working and hanging out, and you think they don't notice all of the lack of awareness about leaving doors/windows open and valuables in cars. It's too bad but the word is out in the community of thieves that we are an easy touch.Use your imagination and look at your street like a burglar would.

  36. Joe's not for preservation,
    But once he was,
    He had to change his mind because
    Of pressure from the DIC's and fuzz,
    Well, handsome is as handsome does,
    Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz,
    Buzz, buzz, buzz, buzz.

  37. Let's make some assumptions and run the numbers.

    Let's assume a 1.5% success rate on the Police Department mailings, which I believe (from online research) to be an educated guess.

    Let's assume that each donor to the Police Association sends $50 (this is simply a guess, and is probably high).

    Let's assume they mailed 3,000 of these letters out (again, simply a guess).

    So, 3000 letters x 1.5% success means 45 people each sent in $50 for a total of $2,250.00.

    Let's assume the letters cost 75c each to send (assumes bulk rate postage, otherwise the cost would be more than that). This means the cost of sending the letters is $2,250 alone.

    (The Orange County article speculated that the organizers of the fund drive might pocket 60% of the net profits, but based upon my guesswork here that isn't much money at all. They probably make their money on marking up the cost of the mailings themselves. This is similar to the way that towing companies bankrolled the 'donate your car to charity' campaigns to generate towing service income, leaving very little to the respective charities).

    I'd love to see some other readers' numbers ...

  38. I wonder how the city feels about its employees soliciting its residents. Can't keep the POA from sending letters of solicitation to Postal Patrons but employees? I wonder how that works?

  39. The Patch sites all over this here country are no doubt monitored by some AOL corporate offices somewhere, and it is all about the page views.

  40. Maybe the post office is the charity. But, I have a feeling someone is making easy money with an appeal to pity and a threat of retaliation. Yes, the threat is veiled, but it is clearly there. No bumper sticker, less service.

  41. Corporate America once again underestimating the public's ability to know local from manufactured local.
    Shouldn't the AOL "local" sites be called McPatch?

  42. This SMPD fundraising letter is the gift that just keeps on giving. Deeper and deeper!

  43. Page views equal ad revenue and viability. Kind of like TV ratings. The more audience, the more money.

  44. Nothing in this city is what it first seems.

  45. After repeating trying to click or interact with the New Equity Productions website, and finally realizing it was designed so you could not look, after 20 minutes of holding.. I went more looking, the badge says The Millenium Police, NEPLAN.COM is a brand of software and not related to them. Finally after going to Dieters site and being referred the the Attoney general, found "Registry of Charitable Trusts" search, because they have to fill out an ATrustee form, anyway, there are two filings both not under the full name but under "New Equity. They haven't been licensed since 2008, they are expired and deliguent. The receiver of all said funds besides a Andrew Howitt, Jeff Rickerts and a Bobby Lopez as President. is "San Jose Police Officers Assn Charitable Trust" The fun part is the founding documents
    "Gandalf Foundation, Inc. #1239056 filed February 14, 1984.... By a Mr. Bennett...Anyway
    I'll send the documents to the editor. Perhaps he will post them. What makes this bad is that it is representing only the San jose POA not Sierra Madre or whatever other little city and they have been issued a RE: WARNING OF ASSESSMENT OF PENALTIES AND LATE FEES, AND SUSPENSION
    The above-named entity is required to file Form RRF-1 annually with the Attorney General’s dated December 31, 2009. Don't blame your personal police or POA, and for christ's sakes don't send these guys money.

    By the way they have raked in the dough, all the financial reports showed close to 200 thous a year. You know what I tell folks that call me ?? that I will walk it into the station my self, I then hear two giant gulps, a long pause on their part and then a decisive hang up by me.

  46. Tom T, so far the town really is small, it really is simple and it really is nice.
    The behind the scenes fierce struggles to keep it that way are the surprise.
    Wish all the residents knew what it has taken, does take, will take, to keep Sierra Madre.

  47. Great beauty demands great sacrifice.

  48. You go Sierra Madre Police Depatment. I hope you get every penny you ask for from the city.

  49. parasites need to be nice to hostsNovember 17, 2010 at 3:07 PM

    2:57, if the SMPD gets what it wants,if the single largest expense on our general fund enlarges itself even more, the city will be bankrupt and the SMPD will no longer exist.

  50. that's right 2:57, I hope they get nothing but pennies also

  51. Pennies and bus fare back home.

  52. Now,now :2:57. Remember , "When all the cops are criminals & all the sinners saints;Thats the stones ya know .

  53. 7:42 AM wrote:
    "For over 100 years, the idea of having to lock one's doors and windows, was not considered as part of the crime. otherwise if you don't, you are responsible for it.
    I see this is a ghetto mentality. I suppose next it will be your own fault, if you don't have a burgler alarm, steel bars on your windows, and a shotgun.
    What ever happened to the idea that theft of one's property does not matter whether the door is locked or not.
    I guess we should all install spiked fences, security cameras, alarm systems, a shotgun, etc. to being considered not "at fault".
    It would certainly make the police's job easier.
    I suppose it would keep the crooks out, but would you like to live that way.
    Perhaps, the police could do more to patrol neighborhoods, and stop to question those who are not residents, to find out why they are here?"

    Having locked and secured doors is not an required element for residential burglary because forced entry is not a requirement. The police usually ask if the homeowner has locked and secured their residence to establish a MO (Modus Operandi). It matters if a burglar uses tools to break into a home compared to if he just walks in through an unlocked door.

    In contrast, having locked and secured doors is a required element for burglary from a motor vehicle because entry has to be "forced". Entry can not be "forced" if the door is left unlocked. If the vehicle is unsecured, the crime is "theft", not "burglary" from a motor vehicle.

    I highly doubt the police is trying to relegate fault to the "victim," more so trying to determine the elements of the crime.

    A hundred years ago, you could shoot a burglar for stealing your property. (Texas stills allows this!) I'm pretty sure burglars were pretty reluctant to steal if they knew their life was at stake. Nowadays, a burglar can clean out your home without much castigation from the justice system.

    Theft is theft, regardless if you leave your purse on the front seat with the doors unlocked. It is not wise, however, it doesn't make it any less of a theft. Ultimately the decision is yours if you want to spend an extra 30 seconds securing the purse in the trunk or spend all of Monday canceling your credit cards.

  54. I commend to you the recent editorial written by Bill Coburn for no other reason than he finally concedes that MaryAnn MacGillivray was right.

    That having been said, Coburn makes a statement in his editorial that needs to be more closely analyzed and then dismissed.

    Cobrun writes:

    "Further, the Council had an opportunity to quiet some of the critics (and there are many) that claim the Council/City staff had misled the ratepayers by "hiding" the water bond debt that most of the rate increase is intended to cover. Now I have to kind of disagree with that, because these bonds have been around since 1998 and 2003, and they are addressed in the annual budget."

    First, I disagree with Coburn's suggestion that the ratepayers were aware of the bonds because they are addressed in the City's budget. Really Bill, how many ratepayers actually read the City's budget each year? Do you Bill?

    But let's humor Bill and assume that most of ratepayers obtain and read the budget and were/are aware of the bonds. As so eloquently explained by our former Mayor Kurt Zimmerman in his speech before the Council, Proposition 218 requires the City to give every ratepayer including Bill's minority (purportedly unfamiliar with the bonds) written notice of the reasons for the rate increase.

  55. But wait! Wouldn't that mean Joe was wrong, 11:36? Nobody who supports Joe would ever think that Joe was wrong. Bill was being uncivil!

  56. if our PD claims to be so elite and demand that they get paid as if they worked in an real police department, why can't they solve this crime wave?

    our PD needs to get off their fat axes, maybe ride bikes around the city and stop politiking so much.

    I think criminals have finally figured out that Sierra Madre is prime pickings because of the Mickey Mouse PD we employ

  57. Afraid to leave my nameNovember 18, 2010 at 7:50 AM

    Our house was burglarized 2 times, one time I gave the name of who did it. Police talked to the guilty party but never recovered anything and I was told to sue for the loss. 2 times I caught someone in my back yard taking things. 1 of those times I called the police with a description and followed him for a police interception, they told me to leave and then proceeded to let the guy get away. The stories are endless. What we need to do is protect ourselves, the police aren't going to do it.

  58. Bear Careful, Don't be Turkey Tatts!!!November 18, 2010 at 11:37 AM

    Closed circuit TV systems are cheap these days. Fenced yards are necessary. A major crew, will actually poison the dogs on a whole block, a few days before they go shopping. Your best bet is to ask your neighbors to keep watch and promise you will do the same for them. A lot of people I know keep a baseball bat at each of their front and back entrances. Remember, in order to get away with defending yourself you must prove they tried to enter the house, so drag the SOB into your house and jimmy the door lock. Seniors keep an eye out on who follows you home from the market, Become aware of who parks on your street. I had a fund raiser physically open my door and try to come in. I had not come to the door or make it known I was in the house. I had a fundraiser for a police agency drive to my house to get money, I asked for his id, got it and locked the door and called my local police. I have a briefcase full of needles and phoney permits from San Gabriel cities that I took from a pro grifter.
    A lady grifter, they like holidays and mysteriously end up owning homes, of course they don't buy them they just walk in and take over or the owner dies suddenly and ???

    Just be smart, be aware, be alert.

  59. Sierra Madre has been "prime pickin" for criminals for the last 5-6 years. Look closely at the police department and you should be able to figure it out.

  60. John, I wanted assure you and your readers that I made every attempt to make my affiliation known at Sunday's forum. As is usual when I attend public meetings I was wearing my Patch press badge, using a reporter's notebook and identifying myself to those with whom I spoke. I remember one or two people even shouting "Hey, it's that Patch guy!" to others as I introduced myself. With such attention and standing 6 foot 4, I imagine I'd make a lousy spy!

    That aside, it was a great forum with plenty of great participation and suggestions! I looked for you to say hi, John. Sorry to have missed you.