In his latest column, Jeff Hall writes about the importance of securing your house, even in Brentwood. Photo: Getty Images.

By Jeff Hall

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For many years I’ve been attending meetings of the Brentwood Community Council, or the BCC.

At just about every monthly meeting, we hear about crime in the area.

Our LAPD Lead Officer, Maria Gray, gives the audience lots of facts and figures – and good advice – about what crimes to watch out for, how to avoid being victimized.

The most simple advice – often ignored, it seems – is to shut and lock your windows and doors.

I’ll be honest, up until recently, I really didn’t worry about crime much. Brentwood has always felt very safe to me. Even if there are occasional problems, they are far fewer than those experienced in most parts of the city. We are lucky to live here.

But in recent months, several neighbors have had their cars broken into. Another friend I know, up in Crestwood Hills, had his house broken into – and it sounded like a very professional job.

And then, maybe two weeks ago, I got a call early one evening from a neighbor who said he had just seen a prowler in our back yard, very close to our house. His barking dog alerted him to the fact that something was amiss and he went outside to look around.

My neighbor saw someone in our backyard, pointed his flashlight at him, and yelled at the guy. The bad guy took off in a hurry. My neighbor told us he had also called the police, and, sure enough, two officers came knocking on our door very soon thereafter.

My wife and I were completely unaware of what had just happened in our backyard, so it was hard to become too rattled.

We never saw or heard anything. But we were, in fact, very impressed with the two officers who showed up – Officers Miller and Glano.

They were very polite – and thorough. They walked all around the house, looked and found nothing. Whoever had been out there was long gone.

So we got lucky – thanks to the watchful eye of our neighbor,

Unfortunately, other neighbors on our street have not been so lucky when it comes to car break-ins.

I did not know this before, but fancy headlights on fancy sports cars are a hot item. Three different vehicles on our street had their headlights removed in the last year or so.

Two other neighbors had their cars broken into in the middle of the night – even though these two neighbors are quite certain they locked their vehicles.

One neighbor did some homework on this subject and learned that tech-savvy burglars can use some kind of electronic device to wirelessly “talk to” your electronic keys inside your house, automatically opening your car parked in the driveway or out on the street. There’s no need to break in at all, the door just opens.


This neighbor recommends, if you use electronic keys, that you should purchase a special metal-lined pouch to put your keys into when you get home. This device – look for a Ticonn Faraday Bag on Amazon — will block signals coming from outside your house.

I just looked at the device online and learned bad guys can even read the information from the strips on the back of your credit cards.

For every new invention, there’s a way to thwart it. That’s the nature of progress going back to the beginning of time, it seems.

While I’m still not (yet) paranoid, I did call a lighting guy. He is going to install motion-detector lights all around our house.  Seems a shame, but we need to deal in reality.

Thanks, especially, to my neighbor.

Let’s all “pay it forward” by looking out for OUR neighbors.


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