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BOYLE HEIGHTS : Groups Join Forces to Combat Crime

October 02, 1994|MARY ANNE PEREZ

In response to crime in the area, neighbors and business owners have formed groups to combat burglaries, vandalism and other crime in the neighborhood surrounding Olympic Boulevard, where bustling traffic, businesses, apartment buildings and subsidized housing projects crowd the southern end of Boyle Heights.

The Business Watch, which includes 40 business owners, has pooled resources to hire a security company to patrol their properties at night to cut down on burglaries and graffiti.

The crime "goes in spurts depending on the visibility of the officers in the Los Angeles Police Department, which is shorthanded," said Business Watch member Hector Hernandez, president of the Boyle Heights Chamber of Commerce and owner of Paramount Mattress Co. on East Olympic Boulevard. "That is why we took the initiative to hire our own security company."

The business owners, who pay a total of $1,800 per month for the security patrols, also receive help from the city with graffiti paintouts done by convicted criminals ordered by the courts to do community service.

"We had seen the crime, if not increase, remain at the same level. Even our police substation had been defaced with graffiti," Hernandez said. "After we initiated the security patrol, we have noticed an improvement not only in graffiti, but in crimes at night."

The Olympic neighborhood and other neighborhoods on the Eastside also are planning to participate in the LAPD's Operation Sparkle, an effort planned for Oct. 22 by the Hollenbeck Division to clean up trash and graffiti in different areas of Los Angeles.

Mary Lou Trevis,president of the Neighborhood Watch Council, said the groups are trying to counteract what a study of San Diego urban problems called the "broken window effect."

"We learned that if people do not maintain or upgrade their neighborhood, there is an increase in crime," Trevis said. "The vacant properties attract the drug dealers and then the gang members. We have learned that if we clean our community we can decrease the crime."

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