Officials seek to curb crime in Little Saigon

0
66
1Keith2.jpg

Holidays are upon us and thieves are looking to make sure they have plenty of gifts this season at the expense of unwary shoppers in and around the Little Saigon business district, which has seen a considerable rise in vehicle burglaries and thefts from last year.

Westminster has seen a 39 percent uptick in vehicle property crimes; Garden Grove is seeing a 17 percent rise; and the unincorporated community, Midway City, is up 4 percent from this time last year.

Holidays are upon us and thieves are looking to make sure they have plenty of gifts this season at the expense of unwary shoppers in and around the Little Saigon business district, which has seen a considerable rise in vehicle burglaries and thefts from last year.

Westminster has seen a 39 percent uptick in vehicle property crimes; Garden Grove is seeing a 17 percent rise; and the unincorporated community, Midway City, is up 4 percent from this time last year.

First District Orange County Supervisor Janet Nguyen has called upon local law enforcement agencies to launch a “Vehicle Anti-Theft Crime Prevention Campaign.” The anti-crime measure was announced at a press conference last Thursday at Asian Village parking lot, on Bolsa Avenue in Westminster.

Alerting and informing citizens about the spate of thefts affecting her district, Supervisor Nguyen has appropriated the essentials of Orange County Sheriff Department’s preventive cautions regarding vehicle burglaries and thefts. Also working with Nguyen are the Westminster and Garden Grove police departments.

Boldly colored caution signs and banners, written in English and Vietnamese, are being placed in and around the Little Saigon area, with the message “Hide it. Lock it. Or Lose it.”

The signs include law enforcement telephone numbers, and are being reinforced by bilingual street banners in and around Little Saigon stating “This Holiday Season – Be Safe, Protect Yourself!” Television and radio announcements aimed at warning and informing shoppers at Little Saigon Business Districts are in the works as well.

Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings spoke to the Orange County News after the press conference. He described the crimes as “opportunistic” and the thieves as “opportunistic criminals.”

In instances of property theft, the victim almost invariably exposes his or her belongings in such a way that makes them easy to steal. Billings added that “opportunistic criminals” scan vehicles where valuables are present.

Breaking into the vehicle, whether by opening an unlocked door or smashing a window, follows upon sighting what is worth stealing. Most at risk are vehicles containing in plain sight valuables such as purses, I-Pads, navigation systems and other electronic devices. Billings reiterated the importance of reporting crimes, irrespective of the perceived cost or damage.

“Crime prevention,” said Billings, “is always a joint effort between communities and law enforcement … reporting theft and other crimes allows the Sheriff’s Department not merely to respond to crimes but to work in crime prevention” by “seeing patterns in criminal activity.”

Supervisor Nguyen, speaking at last week’s press conference, expressed concerns about criminals profiling female holiday shoppers, and described criminals operating in her district as tending to profile Vietnamese women, especially those who are stylishly dressed, wearing expensive jewelry, and carrying pricy electronic devices.

Nguyen also noted concern over the reluctance of Vietnamese citizens to report crimes. Assistant Sheriff Billings encourages people within their communities, whether they are the victim of or a witness to a crime, to take appropriate action.

Unlike certain crimes, property theft, added Billings, is usually avoidable by taking sensible precautions.