LOS ANGELES — Organized robbery rings across Northern California are targeting the vehicles of tourists and other visitors to Los Angeles’ Griffith Park, the vast urban wilderness home to some of the city’s most famous attractions.
Thieves break into vehicles, especially rental cars, in the most popular areas of the park and take off with valuables in seconds, Los Angeles police officials said at a conference call Tuesday. press in front of the iconic three-domed Griffith Observatory.
“Car thieves target property left in plain sight such as luggage, purses, electronics, laptops, tablets, expensive sunglasses and even passports,” Capt. Gary Walters said. , commander of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Northeast Area Patrol.
The mountainous park spans over 4,200 acres (1,700 hectares) in the middle of the city. In addition to the observatory, it houses the Hollywood Sign, the Greek Theater, the LA Zoo, the Autry Museum of the American West, the Travel Town Railroad Museum, and the LA Equestrian Center. Daily visitors include hikers, joggers and cyclists.
The park is patrolled by municipal police, park rangers and community volunteers.
Detective Michael Ventura said some of the thieves are local, but license plate surveillance camera footage shows many are organized groups who use rental cars to travel from Northern California to Griffith Park.
Ventura said his department primarily shares crime information with authorities in San Francisco and Oakland.
In particular, thieves are looking for rental cars that can be easily identified by the markings rental companies use to scan vehicles entering and exiting their lots, Ventura said.
He urged visitors to leave valuables in their accommodation or lock them out of sight in the trunk of their car.
“Your windshield has been smashed and your property has been taken, that’s probably the quickest way to ruin someone’s vacation,” he said.