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Saturday, March 2, 2024

Police should improve response to thefts to earn public trust

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At around 5 a.m. on February 5, a thief broke into a Korean restaurant on Wilshire Boulevard in Koreatown, Los Angeles, making off with the entire cash drawer containing $3,000.

According to surveillance footage released by the restaurant’s owner, the thief spent 15 minutes smashing a key box outside the restaurant before casually opening the door. The thief then headed to the cash register and tried to open the cash drawer with a pointed tool, but when that didn’t work, he ran away with the entire cash drawer. It took him only 15 seconds from breaking in to running away.

A robber broke into a Korean restaurant on Wilshire Street in Koreatown at dawn on February 5, attempting to force open the cash drawer. Familiar with the internal structure, the robber ripped open the cash register box in 15 seconds and fled. [Provided by the business owner]

“The hassle outweighs the benefits, so I won’t report it to the police,” said the restaurant owner.  This is because reporting the crime to the police rarely results in an arrest, and having to deal with police investigations and requests for evidence is a hassle that rarely solves anything.

The reality is that victims of theft do not expect the police to arrest the perpetrators and restore their property. The decline in trust in the police is largely due to the complacent attitude of the police.

A woman whose bag was stolen from a restaurant in LA Koreatown on February 1 went to the Olympic Police Station to report the incident in person, but the officer told her it was after 8 p.m. and that she should file an online report.

Inside the stolen bag were work-related documents, a wallet with her driver’s license and credit cards, and a spare set of car keys. Shortly after stealing the bag, the thieves had made a $200 credit-card purchase at Target, which came through on her cell phone. While she was very nervous and worried about secondary victimization, the police did nothing to help.

Unlike other government offices, police stations are open 24 hours a day. This means that there are no time constraints when it comes to reporting and responding to crimes.
Complaints about police delays in solving cases have been around for a long time, especially for petty crimes like theft and robbery. Moreover, the police often fail to respond to these types of crimes, or respond late.

The suspected bag snatchers, a man and a woman, are seen outside the restaurant looking for a potential target. They entered the restaurant pretending to be customers and attempted to steal a woman’s bag (red circle). [Courtesy of Kimbap Paradise]

The police respond to these criticisms by saying that they are short of police personnel due to budget cuts. It’s understandable that the police prioritize felonies over misdemeanor crimes. However, they should also try to adapt to the changed situation. The police should not keep blaming the lack of funding.

The police’s main job is to protect the safety and property of residents, but there have been many victims of car thefts and business burglaries, and there are not many arrests.
We call on the police to improve response times to thefts and invest in more resources for the protection of residents and their property so that the police can earn the trust of the general public.

By Mooyoung Lee   lee.mooyoung@koreadaily.com