Malibu Sheriff’s Department will combat burglaries with new task force

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Burglaries continue to be a concern not just locally, but across Los Angeles County. Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Capt. Jennifer Seetoo said the department will maximize resources to create a task force to combat burglaries in Malibu and neighboring communities. Multi-level collaboration of law enforcement agencies and community leaders will share information and resources to better address burglaries. 

During the Las Virgenes-Malibu Council of Governments board meeting on Jan. 17, Seetoo said the department is ramping up internal resources as well as incorporating outside help to create a force against burglars.

“We want to focus on these burglaries and create a quasi-task force, meaning we’ll use the cops teams when they’re available, using major crimes when they’re available, and I will look at my budget and will put deputies on overtime to go out and look for these burglars on the trails in the open space,” Seetoo said.

She said the effort to prevent burglaries is a multi-level collaboration that focuses not just on Malibu, but neighboring cities that are also being targeted. She said the department is working on creating and maintaining a network of communication between the sheriff’s department, outside law enforcement agencies, and homeowner association leaders to better target and prevent burglaries.

Seetoo has enlisted the help from the sheriff’s Major Crimes Bureau to gather information on burglaries in Malibu and local cities like Calabasas, Thousand Oaks and Woodland Hills to identify trends and create plans to patrol suspected burglary target areas.

“They’re hitting our sister areas as well, so we’re making sure we maintain relationships with our sister areas and sharing information as step one,” Seetoo said.

Detectives for the Malibu/Lost Hills Sheriff’s Department have also partnered with detectives from both the Los Angeles Police Department and Ventura County Sheriff’s Department to continue to share information and connect dots between crimes in their areas.

Seeto has appointed Sgt. Steve Horton to lead the task force, and he will be responsible for working with detectives to create a strategy for patrolling areas at risk for burglaries.

According to Seetoo, many burglaries are considered open-space burglaries, meaning residential burglaries near trailheads or other large open-space areas.

The department plans to create more high visibility patrols in at-risk areas, as well as patrols through trailheads and open space areas.

The department will benefit from contributions from both the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Foundation and a resident donation in the form of motorbikes and electric mountain bikes that will allow them to send patrols out into trailheads as a preventative measure for burglaries.

In addition, to help from Major Crimes and partnering law enforcement agencies, the department has also welcomed communication from local homeowner association leaders to understand their concerns and help educate community members of how to best protect their homes and property.

“I’m personally hoping to speak to every single HOA, and I know it’ll take me years to do,” Seetoo said. “We’re not looking to just partner with other law enforcement agencies, but how we can partner with our community.”

She hopes this partnership can strengthen the influence of neighborhood watches and improve home security practices such as locking doors, utilizing cameras and motion lighting, and creating relationships between neighbors to watch each other’s homes in the event that a resident is out of town.

Although burglaries remain a concern, Seetoo reassured the community that burglaries are not on the rise and hopes this task force will help educate the community as well.

“Right now, the narrative in the community is that burglaries are like triple, that is actually not the case,” Seetoo said during the LVMCOG meeting on Jan 17. “If you look over the last couple of years we’re just about where we were in 2017 and 2019. We are back in line.”

She said she believes that incorporating the community in a group effort will be effective in preventing burglaries.

“We’re educating the community, partnering with other police agencies, looking within our department and appointing our sergeant to lead the charge for Malibu/Lost Hills, and really working with HOA’s and the community to secure our communities,” Seetoo said.