Leon Worden

There's crime in Santa Clarita. Duh.

By Leon Worden
Wednesday, October 14, 1998

his week's installment in the continuing saga of life in the Santa Clarita Valley falls into the "well, duh" category.

I about spit up my food, as Michael Marks might say, when I read a quote from a neighbor of the 14 teen-agers who were busted in Saugus last week for allegedly ripping off about $8,000 worth of merchandise over two years, primarily from their neighbors' homes.

"We all do it," this neighbor said, trying to justify the propensity of area residents to leave their garage doors open and homes unlocked when they go to the market or take the kids to school. "We take for granted what a safe city we live in."

Hello? Leave your doors unlocked? Duh.

I know we have less crime than other places. So what? That's just a statistic. We still have crime. Pick up the paper any day of the week if you don't believe me.

When I used to visit my relatives in the Midwest, I remember thinking how weird it was that they would leave their doors unlocked when they went somewhere. So maybe locking your doors is one of those ingrained California things. To any transplanted Midwesterners out there, all I can say is, you're in California now.

Nothing I'm telling you here is new. At least, it's stuff you should already know. It's so second-nature that I feel silly saying it but, well, there's that woman in Saugus ...

Anyway, here are some crime prevention tips from the Sheriff's Department — tips which, deputies say, can prevent burglaries.

  • Always lock your doors and windows, even when leaving "just for a minute."

  • Never leave a house key under a doormat, flower pot, etc. These are the first places burglars look.

  • Exterior doors should have deadbolt locks, and sliding glass doors should have auxiliary locks.

  • Use timers so that lights, radio, TV etc. go on when you're gone, to create the illusion that someone is home.

  • Stop mail and newspaper delivery when you go on a trip. Suspend your subscription to The Signal. (The Circulation Department will extend your subscription at no charge for the length of time you're away.)

  • Install a wide-angle lens viewer — a peep-hole — in the front door and NEVER open your door unless you know who's there.

  • When you move into a new home, change the locks.

  • Etch your driver license number into your valuables. Marked merchandise is hard to fence. For items like jewelry and antiques, take photos or videotape them.

And with the holidays approaching, here are some shopping tips:

  • Never leave packages in plain view in your vehicle. Put them in the trunk or under the seat.

  • Don't leave your car unlocked or your engine running while you rush into a store for a moment. A good thief needs only a moment.

  • Park in a well-lit area and walk in groups. Clutch your purse between your arm and body.

For more tips, call the Sheriff's Crime Prevention Unit at 255-1121. And if you suspect a crime has occurred, no matter how small, report it. You don't know when your crime report can help nail a suspect who probably has stolen before.

* * *

The more city officials deny their involvement in the upcoming Castaic Lake water board election, the more they become involved in the upcoming Castaic Lake water board election.

Got a call from a city staffer last week who said I was wrong for accusing the city manager's office of meddling. The staffer said it wasn't City Manager George Caravalho who came up with the idea of turning a bogus story about water connection fees into a campaign issue, but rather Ed Dunn, one of the challengers, who "kept hassling George" for information.

In the next breath, however, this staffer suggested that I criticize the current water board members on another topic which, to my knowledge, isn't even an issue in this election.

That's right. "George didn't do anything ... but why don't you bring up THIS?"

The staffer went so far as to FAX me a copy of a biased, 3-year-old story from another newspaper attacking the water agency. I remember the story from when it first ran. It had been promulgated by SCOPE and quoted — you guessed it — city management at length. It was at the height of the fight between the city and the water agency over the city's now-defunct $1.1 billion redevelopment scheme. City officials were whining and made no attempt to hide their hatred for the agency.

Can you spell "collusion?"

    Leon Worden is The Signal's special sections editor.

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