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Police hone in on holiday crime

City officials urge residents to guard against scams and crimes of opportunity.

November 22, 2011|By Kelly Corrigan, kelly.corrigan@latimes.com

Burbank police officials on Tuesday said the department was at “maximum deployment” as shopping mania sweeps the city’s major retail centers, but urged shoppers to take precautions to avoid becoming victims of crimes.

Other officials, including Burbank Mayor Jess Talamantes and state Sen. Carol Liu (D-La Cañada Flintridge), also called on the public during a news conference Tuesday to heed warnings on everything from holiday scams to making sure pets don’t ingest toxic chocolate or mistletoe.

“The holiday season is in full swing, and unfortunately, while it’s a time of year to celebrate, it’s also a time that criminals prey on unsuspecting victims,” Talamantes said.

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Police Capt. Denis Cremins suggested removing iPods, navigation devices and gifts from plain sight in the car.

“Be sure that you don’t make your vehicle a target of opportunity for thieves,” he said.

Such burglaries and thefts rise during the holiday season in Burbank, LaChasse said, adding that taking simple preventive steps is key.

“It’s amazing the number of observations we make in the field where people have very expensive items in the car visible,” he said. “Sometimes the car is unlocked; sometimes the windows are down.”

The holidays can also spur people to set up scams for money.

“What they will do is ask for an offering — it’s a scam. If somebody does approach you, you need to get in contact with the authorities,” LaChasse said.

His department has adopted “maximum deployment,” with an emphasis on patrolling shopping areas.

Crime was not the only focus of the conference.

Liu offered tips for keeping children and pets safe at home.

“Sometimes, the same rules that apply to children apply to pets. Make sure your Christmas tree is anchored so it can’t be turned over on top of them,” she said.

Avoid small ornaments and decorations that can cause them to choke, Liu added.

And all that mistletoe and chocolate is toxic to dogs and cats, she said.

Burbank Fire Chief Ray Krakowski also warned the public on the hazard of dry Christmas trees and their lights.

“One in three Christmas tree fires is caused by an electrical problem,” he said, referring to a light malfunction. “One in five is caused by being placed close to a heating element.”

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