By Kelly Goff
LOS ANGELES — Two new strategies are being credited with driving down northwest San Fernando Valley thefts and burglaries by 24 percent in the first few weeks of the year, officials said Monday.
As part of a Smart Policing Initiative put in place on Jan. 1, the Los Angeles Police Department's Devonshire Division, which oversees a 50-square-mile area that includes the communities of Canoga Park, Chatsworth, Granada Hills, Northridge, North Hills, Porter Ranch, West Hills and Winnetka, is using a predictive-policing model — employed to track violent crime — to flag areas where property crimes are more likely to occur and then put additional resources in those locations.
The division has also developed a Recidivist Extraction Detail to monitor known thieves and track the most prolific.
"In 2013, we recorded over 1,400 personal thefts that basically ... did eclipse over $500,000 in losses," said Capt. Kris Pitcher, who heads the division. "What we want to do is turn the tide on this thing."
In addition to ongoing public-outreach campaigns urging residents to monitor their belongings — most notably iPhones and iPads, which are disappearing in record numbers — that means new tactics.
The strategy of adapting the predictive-policing model currently used in the northeast valley and LAPD's Central and South Divisions involves dividing the patrol area into small geographic "boxes" and tracking the number and nature of reported incidents — in this case, burglary, robbery and grand theft auto — to better deploy officers where they are needed
The recidivist detail launched in December, and based on past criminal history, participation in the AB109 early-release program and other factors, officers identified 24 burglars or thieves who had targeted residents in the area, according to Lt. Tim Torsney.
"There was one individual we arrested for committing a robbery," Torsney said. "After he was arrested, there was a 95 percent drop in property crimes in the one and a half square miles around his house."
Torsney said not all of the tracked offenders live in the area, but they've been known to commit crimes in the area.
"Some are outside the city," he said. "But if you commit a crime in Devonshire, we'll come to you."
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