Los Angeles burglars have learned to exploit the isolation and privacy that make neighborhoods like Beverly Hills, Bel-Air and Brentwood so attractive to wealthy homeowners, reports the city’s Times. The homes are shielded from the street by walls, ornate gates or dense plantings. Discreetly placed security cameras scan driveways and structures, and private security signs warn “Armed response.” But over the last four years, at least two bands of burglars have targeted more than 150 hillside and canyon residences in the city, getting away with an estimated $20 million worth of jewelry, cash and artwork.
Victims of the more than 70 burglaries in the last year have included former Paramount Pictures chief Sherry Lansing and her Oscar-winning director husband, William Friedkin; Clippers basketball star Cuttino Mobley; and country music stars Tim McGraw and Faith Hill. The thefts have caused concern in the canyons in recent weeks. In Bel-Air, a homeowners association is collecting donations to purchase cameras that can read the license plates on cars that drive through the area. The association also has asked members to test the response times of their security companies and report the results as part of a larger evaluation of the firms.