Crime: Up in the county, down in the city and WAY UP at my house

My head spins as Chief Bratton and Sheriff Baca argue about why people commit crimes. The number of murders is at historic lows in the city while violent crime is up in the county.

"Our economy is driving the property crimes -- burglary and larceny," the sheriff said in the LA Times. "In some communities, with high unemployment, some people resort to theft."

The Los Angeles County's unemployment
rate, which stood at 5.3% in November, nearly 1% higher than the same month a year before. It was the largest year-to-year increase since 2002. At the same time, however, serious crime dropped 4.9% on neighboring turf patrolled by the Los Angeles Police Department, which also recorded its fewest homicides -- 392 -- in 37 years.

"I will take them all on, the economists, the criminologists, all of these people who give you the baloney," Bratton said. "What makes the difference is cops focused on crime."

All I know is that my house was broken into last month in broad daylight, and if that wasn't bad enough, it took the LAPD five and a half hours to arrive on a Thursday night. The fingerprint guy came the next day but informed me the burglar was wearing gloves.

It wasn't so bad property wise, a broken window, some jewelery and a new digital camera (not enough to claim on my homeowner's insurance). But you feel no less violated.

Of course some might blame me and the way I throw caution to the wind - I took the bars off the windows when I painted the house last year and never put them back on. I was proud and flaunted how safe I felt.

I considered removing the bars when I first moved to LP almost four years ago. There are very few crimes in our bubble, though there are some tough areas nearby. I told a few neighbors about my idea. The response was swift. Do not take off the bars. They pointed to hers and several other houses that were locked up tight behind wrought iron. I didn't bother to point out that several houses on the block do not sport the burglar bars.

I didn't heed their advice. And I paid a small price. Afterward another neighbor and friend asked me when I was putting the bars back on, that I was making myself a target. I told him I wasn't going to do it. "What neighborhood do you think you're living in?" was his response.

I live in Leimert Park. And I am not afraid. Petty crime happens every where. I will not overreact. I can walk around at night. I can talk to people on my stoop. My neighbors care about their hood and we watch out for each other. You just have to be aware and take some precautions.

Now I turn on the alarm every day.

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