Neighbors in California Welcoming Home Security Companies

Neighbors arrange meet-greet with security alarm providers after rash of thefts


CHULA VISTA -- Dozens of neighbors got reacquainted and shared snacks yesterday, while learning about home security systems after two burglaries in their subdivision fueled reports of a series of crimes.

The sales pitches from four different security firms were arranged by John Ray, a former member of the Chula Vista Planning Commission, at his home in College Estates.

Ray, a computer software consultant, said that he was reacting to recent burglaries suffered by two neighbors and that he had heard of dozens of other break-ins in northeastern Chula Vista.

The most recent one occurred Tuesday at the home of a 77-year-old man while he was out shopping about 10 a.m.

"I feel totally violated," said Bill, who asked that his last name not be used. Bill said he feared the burglars may return.

He said the intruders forced open a rear door to his house, possibly with a knife. They dumped out all the drawers and file cabinets throughout his house and left with more than $5,000 worth of property.

The most valuable items taken, Bill said, were a Breitling wristwatch, computers and camera equipment.

The burglars apparently carried his property out the rear door and through a front gate to get away, possibly to a waiting vehicle. No arrests have been made, police said.

Capt. Gary Wedge of the Chula Vista Police Department confirmed reports about the two burglaries, but said the rumors about dozens of recent burglaries in the city's northeastern corner in recent months were unfounded.

The other neighborhood burglary this month was reported by a resident who surprised two boys in his garage. They ran off without stealing anything.

College Estates is just east of Southwestern College, near Otay Lakes Road and Gotham Street. It has had two burglaries since Jan. 1, Wedge said, compared with a single burglary during the same period in 2006.

Citywide, 79 burglaries were reported in December.

Ray said getting residents together to talk about safety precautions had an added benefit.

"Really what it's done, it's brought the neighborhood of College Estates back together like it was when I grew up here," he said.

David Reid, a salesman from Brinks Home Security, told the audience at Ray's home that his firm was mostly interested in providing its customers with "peace of mind," rather than trying to "put sensors on all your windows."

Wedge said there were nearly 11,500 alarm systems set up at homes and businesses in Chula Vista. He said it is important that buyers obtain city permits for them, have them serviced regularly and learn how to operate them. Last year, police responded to 6,865 false alarms.

To best protect homes from burglars, Wedge advised residents to set up Neighborhood Watch programs and keep them active. Also, he suggested installing locks on all windows and deadbolt locks on doors, and keeping them locked at night and when residents are away.

Wedge said the rumors of a burglary series might have been prompted by arrests about a month ago of three adults and one juvenile on suspicion of numerous burglaries in eastern Chula Vista.

CHULA VISTA BURGLARIES

Chula Vista has tallied an average of 667 burglaries annually since 2004.

In 2006, there were 41 to 79 reports of residential burglaries in the city each month.

Countywide, there has been an average of 10,000 burglaries reported annually since 2004 -- about 1 percent of the estimated 1 million homes.

Source: SANDAG and the Automated Regional Justice Information System,