Wave of Home Burglaries as Fire Rebuild Gets Underway

Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriffs

A pattern of home burglaries has begun to emerge across the Western half of Malibu—specifically, homes under construction after the Woolsey Fire are being broken into, and everything from appliances to piping to tools are being swiped.

Last week, a home damaged by the Woolsey Fire on Murphy Way was broken into and copper piping was cut from joints in the victim’s backyard. Electrical wiring from the plastic piping was taken and equipment that was left outside was stolen, according to a report filed at the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. 

A lack of home security seems to be an issue; however, the victim told deputies she regularly goes to her residence to clean debris and check the location. 

Malibu Mayor Pro Tem Mikke Pierson, a resident of Malibu West, suggested homeowners can implement more security measures to keep people out—and have neighbors lookout for suspicious activity. 

“You’ve got to have neighbors looking out for neighbors; anything that helps as a group is vitally important for more reasons than just security,” Pierson said. “Generally, around construction sites, there has been theft—so [the first step is] knowing that, and be prepared for it as best you can.”

Pierson also recommended making sure everything is locked and out of plain site to prevent theft, as well as communicating with the sheriff’s department.

Council Member Jefferson “Zuma Jay” Wagner recommended property owners complete a Right of Entry (ROE) form with LA County and Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station, to give deputies permission to enter a property if there is any suspicious activity.

“If they’re not on their property, an ROE allows the deputies that are driving to go onto the property and do a look through or check out to see who’s on your property,” Wagner said. “Without the ROE, they are forbidden from leaving the street, so they can do a drive by but they can’t access the property—ROE’s give them that right.”

Wagner was a victim of theft on his property that burned in the Woolsey Fire, and about $5,000 worth of equipment was stolen. 

“The largest theft occurred about five to six months ago. I lost materials: galvanized pipe, tools and small equipment,” Wagner said. “From everything to a hammer to a propane tank to a lawn mower—anything that’s not pinned down that you could [carry] in a pickup truck was taken.”

Wagner said a month ago he was called by his neighbors about suspicious activity and was able to call the LA County Sheriff’s Department.

“I just tell my neighbors—strange cars? Strangers,” Wagner said. 

“Getting a ROE—that way, the sheriff’s can go on the property and apprehend these individuals if they’re there on time,” Wagner said. “Additionally, putting up signs about ‘No Trespassing’ visible from the street.”

When asked about whether the city was involved in helping combat a rise in crime in areas of the city hit hard by the Woolsey Fire, City Manager Reva Feldman declined to speak, directing questions to the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station. Officials at the station did not respond immediately to interview requests.