Concern about crime expressed
Nearly 200 concerned residents attended a Feb. 18 community crime forum at Grace Point Church organized in response to a Feb. 10 home invasion in Carmel Valley.
"I am still shaking," Jodi Block, who lives close to the scene of the crime, said. "I'm so afraid to come and go from my house."
San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner, who helped organize the meeting, attended as well as numerous San Diego Police Department officials, including Chief William Lansdowne, Assistant Chief Boyd Long and Northwestern Division Captain Kathy Healey.
Officers presented crime prevention tips and allowed the public to ask questions, but some attendees complained about how the incident was handled by police.
Some parents of students at Sage Canyon School, which is 10 houses from where the crime occurred, wanted answers from officers about why the school wasn't locked down.
Healey said a lockdown was considered but deemed unnecessary because officers responded quickly to the area and while they were not on campus, they established a perimeter around the school. They didn't want to create a panic, she added.
Some parents said they would have preferred to panic a little and felt the captain should have erred on the side of caution.
"Lock the thing down and we'll deal with it," one Sage father said to applause.
On that Tuesday morning around 10:50 a.m., a man confronted a resident in the garage of her home on Whispering Hills Lane. Using a knife, the suspect demanded the code for her alarm system and thinking on her feet, she gave him the wrong code. The alarm was then set off, causing the suspect to flee.
"She was not injured, she kept her wits about her and tricked him," Jim Collins, of the robbery division, said. "And her trick worked."
The suspect was described as a white male, between 28 and 30 years old, 5 feet 5 inches to 5 feet 6 inches with a medium to thin build.
Several cops were on the scene in five minutes, including Healey. The robbery unit was there within 10 minutes. "The response was excellent," Healey said.
Since the event, neighbors have discussed hiring private security, which Healey said she does not recommend.
"You're much better off with a Neighborhood Watch," Healey said. A private security guard can be expensive and is only going to call the police anyway, she explained.
Officer Sells helped organize several Neighborhood Watch groups in Carmel Valley but said there should be more.
"It's really what you make of it," he said. One group exchanges e-mails while another in Pacific Highlands Ranch organized a patrol and even made custom T-shirts.
Sells said the better people know their neighbors, the better they can tell when something is not right.
"Talk to your neighbors, find out information," Sells said. "It can only do good."
A similar incident occurred Feb. 19 at around 2 p.m. on Longshore Way, off East Ocean Air Drive, although there was no weapon involved.