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Tuesday, March 5, 2024

Seniors cry out distress as management neglects security measures

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Korean-American residents of Swansea Park Senior Apartments near Koreatown in Los Angeles have been enduring a series of burglaries. Despite their requests for enhanced security measures, residents report that the management company has responded with indifference.

On the morning of December 28, 2023, four cars in the apartment’s parking lot were broken into. Windows were smashed, and belongings were stolen. “When I checked after being alerted by a neighbor, I found my car’s windows shattered and the interior covered with glass,” said 68-year-old resident Danny Kim. “My $300 sunglasses, handicap placard, and even the apartment gate remote control were taken. I’m concerned they might use these for further crimes.”

Resident Byung Sim, 79, recalled a burglary two years ago that resulted in a tenant’s death three months after hospitalization. “It’s unacceptable for a building with 85 seniors to lack basic security like CCTV or security grates. It puts our safety at risk,” he stated.

Victims of burglaries at Swansea Park Senior Apartments show photos of the incidents on their cell phones to a Korea Daily reporter. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

In 2022, two cars were also stolen from the apartment complex. “Around August 2022, my Hyundai Sonata disappeared when I came out in the morning,” said resident Aera Yoo. “About a month later, I received a call from the police saying that they had found the car, and when I went to look at it, it was in a terrible state, with the wheels missing.”

This latest break-in theft marks the second time Yoo has been a victim of theft, just over a year after purchasing her new car. “When my car was stolen in 2022, I pleaded with the management company to install CCTV, but they didn’t listen, and a year later my car was stolen again,” Yoo said. “The management company kept saying they weren’t responsible, but I was really angry.”

Another resident highlighted communication challenges with the management, which employs non-Korean-speaking staff. “Even simple requests for slower communication are met with responses like ‘I’m busy. I have over 100 people to deal with,’” he explained.

The absence of a resident manager compounds the issue, leaving seniors without assistance during emergencies in the evenings. Furthermore, since a new landlord acquired the building, amenities like the mini-park, social center, and outdoor benches have been removed, causing distress among residents fearful of eviction.

Residents of Swansea Park Senior Apartments discuss the petition signed by residents at the Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council on January 18. [Sangjin Kim, The Korea Daily]

“The owner, a Korean-American member of Seoul National University’s American Alumni Association, has never directly communicated with us,” said resident Danny Kim. “Feeling ignored, we’ve turned to the neighborhood council for help.”

On January 18, residents submitted a petition to the Wilshire Center-Koreatown Neighborhood Council, including 66 signatures and their demands. “We’ve forwarded the petition and supporting photos to the office of District 13 Councilmember Hugo Soto-Martinez, and it will likely reach the Los Angeles Department of Aging,” said Mark Lee, president of the council.

By Suah Jang [jang.suah@koreadaily.com]