Leisure World residents got a look Tuesday at how to make themselves safer.
The mayor, Seal Beach staff and the Seal Beach Police Department spoke about the latest local crime trends, offered security tips and answered questions at a Town Hall meeting inside the 9,000-person retirement community.
Detective Sergeant Ron La Velle detailed a recent rash of thefts of purses and wallets in Leisure World.
“Last week a stranger made his way into leisure world,” La Velle said. “We’ve identified a breach or two in operational security.”
He added that officers had apprehended a man they accuse of the crimes.
“I hate to report that there are still some items that we have not covered,” La Vellel said. “I think we did recover a couple of purses and some IDs and things like that.”
“Most of these were targets of opportunity,” La Velle said, adding that some of the things residents can do to protect their property is to make sure valuables are kept inside the home, not in plain sight.
“With crime prevention, I think there are things we can do to harden our targets.” La Velle said.
According to La Velle some of the other crimes they see in Leisure World include fraud – for example, when someone calls in the middle of the night claiming to be a family member in trouble and then asks for money – and elder abuse – when a caretaker takes advantage of their charge.
In both cases, La Velle recommended a “trust but verify” policy before residents give money or hire a caregiver: he advises residents to do a thorough examination of the backgrounds of possible caregivers as well as anyone caller who claims to be a family member experiencing an emergency.
After La Velle spoke, Sergeant Steve Bowles told residents to be vigilant. He also told residents not to be afraid to call the police at (562) 594-7241 when a crime occurs.
"The most important thing is to bring it to our attention," Bowles said. "That way we can more effectively take care of that problem as soon as possible."
Mayor Michael Levitt, who represents Leisure World on the City Council, said that his constituents often tell him they don’t feel part of the city, and he said events like the townhall meeting showed otherwise.
People say “Leisure World seems to be the stepchild or the orphan of the city of Seal Beach.We don’t see the police that often. Are we really part of the city of Seal Beach?" Levitt said. “And yes, you are you’re a very big part, and you’re an important part.”
Attendee Patty Schmitz, a resident of Leisure World for six months, said that there were "so many" important things she heard about the meeting, especially the thefts.
“I think that more people should have come to hear about what the police department is doing here," Schmitz said.
Attendee Joannie Jianto, who has lived in Leisure World for four years, said the meeting inspired her to start volunteering with the police department.
“I have seen elder abuse cases,” Jianto said. “Some of the elderly ... (are) really helpless.
“At least (as a volunteer), I can provide info to them.”