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'Knock-knock' burglars: LAPD targets pawn shops

September 19, 2012 |  2:24 pm

The owners of several downtown pawn shops who allegedly did business with dozens of "knock-knock burglars" were arrested Wednesday as police tried to stem the tide of break-ins on the Westside and the San Fernando Valley.

Two owners were taken into custody without incident at their homes and booked on suspicion of receiving stolen property. About a dozen others were detained at four pawn shops -- three that dealt in jewelry and the other in electronics -- on Broadway from 6th to 8th streets.

Under the law, the shops are required to take a thumb print and identification information from those involved in pawning their goods. But Lt. Jim Setzer said those stores took the goods in "very quick transactions" with "no questions asked."

These transactions were so frequent police saw one crew finish up its business while another came in shop to get rid of their ill-gotten gains, Setzer said.

The operation is part an ongoing effort by an LAPD task force to stop thieves who break into homes through the back when no one answers their knock at the front door, earning them the name "knock-knock" burglars.

The LAPD estimates that crews, involving members from as many as 20 different gangs, stole goods including jewelry and electronics such as iPads and lap-top computers from about 300 homes in affluent neighborhoods in the San Fernando Valley, the Westside, the Hollywood Hills and Glendale.

The effort by police is believed to have significantly cut the number of break-ins since the task force was formed in March, though police officials said they would continue to target gangs and individuals involved in such crimes.


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-- Andrew Blankstein