Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Echo Park car owners beware: Tweaker Tom is on the prowl

Tweaker Tom is the name the police have given to the person they believe is responsible for a recent string of car burglaries in Echo Park and Elysian Heights. He’s most likely a meth addict and lives in the neighborhood, said LAPD officer Bobby Hill, Echo Park’s top cop. About five cars have been broken into along or near Lemoyne Street and Avon Terrace in the past two weeks, he said. Tweaker Tom and others are scooping up the iPods, GPS gizmos and other items residents are leaving behind in their vehicles.

“They are like zombies out in the middle of the night,” said Hill.

Judging from my walks around the neighborhood, there seems to be more shattered windshields and broken window glass on the streets.

Darren Williams, owner of Select Patrol, a private security company, says the neighborhood and city will see an increase in car burglaries, vandalism and other so-called “opportunistic crime” as unemployment rises and the economy continues to sink. “People will be leaving stuff outside and it will disappear.”

Hill, however, says junkies looking to finance their habit remain his biggest threat to Echo Park car owners, not a newly laid off worker. Hill said he’s keeping his night shift focused on catching Tweaker Tom and may end up working nights himself if their efforts fail. Of course, it would help if residents followed his advice: “Don’t leave anything in your vehicle.”

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