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By Tammye McDuff

The Cerritos Sheriff’s Department is asking Cerritos residents to partner with them by turning on their porch lights and exterior lighting to help prevent nighttime burglaries.

“There has been conclusive data, suggesting that a well lit community makes neighborhoods less likely to be victimized by residential or vehicular burglaries,” said Lieutenant Ed Wells of the Cerritos Sheriff’s Department.

Operation Night Light is a new crime abatement strategy designed to deter criminals at night. Cerritos residents can participate by simply turning on their porch lights at dusk and leaving on until dawn. Lights equipped with a photocell automatically do this as well as movement censored lighting.

“Criminals are adaptive creatures,” said Jim McDonnell, Sheriff of Los Angeles County. “Enhanced daytime patrols, security cameras and automatic license plate reading technologies are all good deterrents, however it has caused would-be burglars to switch their illicit activities to the night.”

Thieves are surveying residential neighborhoods during the day and at sunset looking for homes that appear to be unoccupied.  Homes that have no exterior or interior lights on draw their attention.

HMG-CN has been in close contact with many of the neighborhoods regarding the multiple burglaries. Resident Jim McMahon invited the paper to sit in on the formation of a new Neighborhood Watch. “Four burglaries in one week is just too much,” said McMahon. Pointing to his right  he said, “that house had a burglary two days ago, now the house behind me had one at 2:30 this morning.”

The Cerritos Sheriff’s Station is receiving, logging, and responding to resident’s complaints. It has been noted that La Palma residents are complaining now that this criminal behavior is overflowing into their neighborhoods.

“I guess when you have a metro city of 12 to 15 million people, and no fear of consequences for actions, this is what happens.” McMahon added, “ but what I really fear the most, is that one of these days there’s going to be a murder or rape. That’s when people are really going to take things in their own hands and begin purchasing handguns.”

During the Neighborhood Watch it was discussed that the rise in burglaries is in part due to Proposition 47.

The initiative was pushed by George Gascón, San Francisco district attorney, and William Lansdowne, former San Diego police chief. The measure required misdemeanor sentencing instead of felony for crimes as long as the amount of the crime was $950 or less. The crimes included Shoplifting, Grand theft, Receiving stolen property, Forgery, Fraud, Writing a bad check, and personal use of most illegal drugs.