Police Urge You to Report Crimes; Do They Mean It?

By: 
Stephen Downing

The first step in solving a problem is to recognize it does exist – Zig Ziglar

On May 31, the Grunion Gazette published a detailed letter from Naples Island resident Collette Anderson, 79. In it she described a treacherous scam in which two males in a dark van followed her from a gas station, honked for her to pull over,  which she refused to do, and then followed her to her next stop – a store parking lot where they surreptitiously damaged her car and then attempted to convince her that she had hit and damaged their vehicle.

The two males asked her for $100 to cover the damage. Anderson told them she had no money. The thieves pressed her for a check or ATM information. She carefully and diplomatically refused.

After a period of back and forth scam prattle and her steadfast refusal to comply, the two ultimately gave Anderson a first name and cell phone number, telling her to text them for an address to which she could later send the money. They then drove away.

At the end of her letter published in the Gazette Anderson wrote, “I called the police but since I was not harmed physically or monetarily a report was not taken. I am writing this to make others aware that this can happen anywhere and to anyone.”

Over the past six years we have attended numerous neighborhood meetings where division police commanders (beat officers don’t attend) routinely respond to neighborhood complaints of criminal activity by stating over and over, “ You have to report these crimes to us. Call 911. We won’t know and can’t do anything unless you report it.”

With that experience in mind we forwarded a copy of Anderson’s Gazette-published letter to Police Chief Robert Luna’s spokesperson and asked about LBPD reporting policy.

Luna’s spokesperson replied, “I have spoken to our financial crimes detail and they have not had any similar incidents but would like to talk to the victim. Sounds like a “Gypsy” type scam similar to the car repair scams they have ran in the past.

“Do you have any contact information for her or a possible date when this occurred so I can try and find a call where she called the police? We want to make sure we get the message out to the community especially the elder community to be aware of these possible scams.”

Knowing it would be difficult for the financial crimes detail to have any information about this kind of scam if reports of such incidents are not taken, we emailed back to Chief Luna’s representative, told him that we did not have any contact information, suggested that they contact the Grunion Gazette to get it and then repeated our original request, writing:

“Our interest is to learn what your reporting policy is. Is this a case in which the LBPD would require a report and the failure to do so is a policy violation or does the department support the disposition the woman reported?” (i.e., Do you have a problem and – if so – can you acknowledge it?)

A week passed and we received no reply so we wrote once again asking for a response.

Another 10 days passed with no reply so we forwarded our email trail to City Manager Pat West’s office and asked for assistance in getting an answer.

The city manager did not respond but several days later Chief Luna’s spokesman sent us an email that read: “Reported incidents are investigated and handled based on the facts in each situation. If you wish to request information regarding a specific LBPD policy, please click on the below link to submit your Public Records Act Request. Have a blessed day.”

Given the fact that Luna’s spokesman – in his first response – wrote: “We want to make sure we get the message out to the community especially the elder community…” we undertook to learn if the LBPD had in fact obtained Anderson’s information from the Grunion Gazette and made contact with her.

A three-minute web search located Anderson’s contact information. We called and learned from her that she had not heard from the LBPD.

Anderson provided us with even greater details about her encounter with the scam artists, including a full description of the suspects and their vehicle, the phone number they gave her, the date and time of the incident and the date and time that she called 911.

Anderson told us that she described the incident to the 911 officer in detail, and said the officer “didn’t ask for a description of the suspects or their big van.” According to Anderson the 911 officer’s only response was, “Since you weren’t harmed physically or monetarily we won’t take a report.”


Anderson was surprised, “I thought the police would want to know so they could look for these people,” she said. “But I didn’t want to argue. I just assumed that was their policy.”

Anderson offered an unedited copy of her letter to the Beachcomber, hoping that even more exposure would get the word out about the scam.

The publisher, Jay Beeler, posted her letter on the Beachcomber web site and published it in the last print issue. He said, “There was a time when the LBPD would put out – via releases to the media – descriptions of active scams. Apparently the current LBPD chief is not interested in preventative policing.”

Chief Luna may not be interested, but Anderson is certainly doing her part to get the word out. “I tell everybody I know about it and I get a lot of responses,” she said.

Anderson told us that she also belongs to a group of 50 volunteers at Memorial Hospital. She said, “I went to our last meeting and told all of them about it and how the police were not interested.”

Gary Smith, a local businessman, read Anderson’s letter published in the Beachcomber and called to tell us that he was recently exposed to an even bigger scam perpetrated against local contractors.

Smith said that he had the same experience as Anderson. He called the LBPD relayed all the details associated with the scam and gave them the scammer’s phone number and a money drop location. The officer who answered his call wasn’t interested stating, “We don’t have the time or resources to chase down those kind of leads.” No report was taken.

Smith said, “ I wanted to ask them what they were doing with all of that Measure A and Measure M tax money, but I didn’t.”

Stephen Downing is a resident of Long Beach and a retired LAPD deputy chief of police.

stephen@beachcomber.news

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Comments

Ms. Anderson's complaints about LBPD are true.  I’ve called several times about homeless and who knows other individuals jumping out from behind trash cans in the alleys late at night. Its startling when it's pitch dark your walking your dogs for the final pee and someone jumps out from behind the trash cans.  #1.  They don’t belong there  #2. At that time of night they  are up to no good, stealing bikes, entering backyards thru unlocked gates etc.

What ever the reason LBPD doesn’t respond,  as told to me by the dispatcher who brings it upon herself to decide weather or not to accept the call.  When I insist,  she hands call over to another woman who identifies herself as supervisor stating the same thing. No crime to be homeless.  No car dispatched.  Is the PD that busy late at night?  

 

 

 

Nancy Cortez

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