SUV Theft in Mission Viejo..The rest of the story

Last December 13th I posted a report entitled “Note of Caution. Auto theft in Orange County.” That post, which can be found in the Dec 2006 archives, was issued purely to alert Orange County shoppers to be sure to lock our cars and hide packages out of public view. What I did not cover deals with the issue of the delayed reporting. At that time I did not look at the police blotter to get a sense of the details related to the thefts.

I have submitted the following letter to the Register as follows.

Were there political reasons for delaying the warning of auto thefts in Mission Viejo, recognized as one of the safest cities in the nation? In the January 10th Local section the report “SUV thieves set up shop” it states that 13 SUV’s were stolen in June from the Shops at Mission Viejo yet our chief of police services did not issue an internal memo to our council and staff until December 12th, a full month after the elections of three incumbents who each bragged about our safe city ranking during their campaigns. In Lt Bernardi’s memo it stated that 24 SUV’s were stolen between May and November. Although a Neighborhood Watch bulletin was to be issued on December 13th, we might have averted some of these thefts if we were warned back in July after 50 percent of these SUV’s were stolen.

There are other issues that must be addressed. Your thoughts on this post are truly requested and appreciated.

Did the city council know of the thefts prior to the issuance of the above referenced December 12th memo of which I have a copy

Was our chief of police services negligent in failing to send out his warning for six months after June?

Was his delay politically motivated?

Did the city manager know of the rash of thefts prior to the December memo?

If so, why didn’t the city include a warning in our Quarterly Outlook Magazine or on the city web site?

Why didn’t anyone from the city mention these auto thefts at a city council meeting?

Why didn’t Lt. Bernardi alert the public by speaking about the thefts at a city council meeting up to and beyond the election?

Note: Our council meetings are broadcast live locally and can be accessed anywhere in the world by computer.

While every city council member has worn out the saying that “public safety is job one” the citizens of Mission Viejo and everyone who shops the MV Mall have been let down.
Further, the comments to CBS news reporter Dave Lopez, who covered the story yesterday, to “stay off the property,” does not indicate a customer friendly attitude.

While a prior city council approved a multimillion dollar redevelopment authorization to construct this new parking structure, our city braintrust has failed to provide adequate safety measures such as camera’s but that’s being a Monday morning quarterback and today is already Thursday.

About Larry Gilbert