For decades, I have loved shopping for fake designer handbags. In Los Angeles, there was a stall in downtown Santee Alley that specialized in selling fake handbags that looked real, and from college I bought some $ 10 “Gucci” bags from this seller with regularity and enthusiasm. But now, thanks to rabid crime – unlike anything I’ve seen in this city – for the first time, I’m afraid to carry my fake designer bags on the streets of LA.
Go ahead and laugh. Or sneer and accuse me of privilege. Sticks and stones can break my bones, but I’m pretty sure a gun pointed at me and my fake purse can do a lot more damage.
I haven’t always been so anxious. I used to have coffee with friends on Melrose Avenue and place my fake Chloe handbag right on the table, in full view of all the unimpressed passers-by and skeptical pigeons on the street.
I haven’t always been so anxious. I used to have coffee with friends on Melrose Avenue and place my fake Chloe handbag right on the table, in full view of all the unimpressed passers-by and skeptical pigeons on the street. But after a series of recent armed robberies of sidewalk diners in Melrose, I don’t even feel safe sitting in a sidewalk cafe and enjoying a cup of coffee that costs more than my purse.
This is not hyperbole. The LAPD recently released statistics showing that armed robberies have increased by 75% in the past year in the Wilshire and Hollywood Divisions. Neighborhood groups, tired of violent crime, are installing license plate readers because business owners as well as customers are so anxious.
“It’s never been this bad,” Krystal Thomas, owner of Cosmo and Donato, told FOX 11 News. âWe have been using Melrose for about 30 years. This change has been truly violent and sporadic.
In August, a dispute over a shoe raffle resulted in the shooting and murder of a Shoe Palace employee in the Fairfax District. The employee was not even involved in the argument. The poor man was outside the store, trying to break up the argument.
This is one of the most extreme examples of violent crime in local businesses. But as far as I’m concerned, there’s a particular feeling of helplessness and anxiety about sitting in a sidewalk cafe and suddenly being confronted by a gunman who demands your wallet, your phone. and your jewelry. That really lends itself to the question, is there no more security anywhere in LA?
Of course, much of the city is still safe (like Ross Dress for Less and some public restrooms). For my part, I have become accustomed to carrying a fanny pack that contains only old receipts and feminine hygiene products.
Of course, much of the city is still safe (like Ross Dress for Less and some public restrooms). For my part, I started to carry a decoy fanny pack that contains only old receipts and feminine hygiene products, and to store important items, like my phone, keys, credit cards, tissues. , hair clips, pens, notepads, snack bags, lenses, wipers and tweezers in my pockets. I am bulging on the sides, but no one can tell if I am sitting.
I try not to think of extremes. I trust statistics and reason. But news of some crimes hits your jugular and makes sanity irrelevant. On November 28, a mother in Hancock Park was robbed while standing outside her house after walking her baby in a stroller. On December 3, guests were robbed at an outdoor vacation party at Pacific Palisades. It’s a sad day when Angelenos get assaulted while walking their babies or at parties. I had no idea things could get any less secure until I learned that a physical therapy office in Beverly Hills was recently robbed by several gunmen. Yes, a physiotherapy practice. In Beverly Hills.
I have been to many such offices in the region for muscle issues related to pregnancy and the postpartum period. Physiotherapy practices are meant to be spaces to work on healing, and to heal safely, under professional supervision. Many elderly people injured as a result of various accidents frequent these spaces. A physiotherapy office is the last place someone should be robbed.
But the worst crime in recent Beverly Hills history was the murder of wife, mother, grandmother and philanthropist Jacqueline Before December 1. Aariel Maynor, 29, of Los Angeles, is said to have attempted to rob his house and is accused of killing Avant. The family security guard was there at the time; Maynor is also accused of attempting to kill the guard.
It forces me to ask the only question everyone thinks about, but no one is going to say: if Jacqueline Avant was killed in her own house in the presence of a security guard, what chance do we all have to stay safe. ?
It should be noted that, according to the Washington Examiner, hours after Avant’s murder, Los Angeles District Attorney George GascÃ³n “distributed a fundraising letter aimed at overturning a law that would uphold it. [alleged] killer in prison.
My heart broke for the Avant family, and the murder was a huge wake-up call for Beverly Hills residents, many of whom have told local news sources they are now spending tens of thousands of dollars to update. level their home security systems. Others arm themselves.
There is a grim air of skepticism about law enforcement and the criminal justice system in LA that I have never witnessed before. A woman, who asked to remain anonymous, told me that she was recently chased down the street on Westwood Boulevard by a homeless man who brandished a small knife and shouted, “I’m going to kill you!” When I asked the woman if she had contacted the police, she replied, âWhy? They wouldn’t have done anything about it.
Last week Jamie McBride, leader of the LAPD Police Union, said in a television interview: âMy message to anyone considering coming to Los Angeles, especially during the holiday season, is not to. . We cannot guarantee your safety. It’s really, really out of control.
In next week’s column, I will describe my family’s terrible experience with theft over the past six months and analyze why the spikes in crime in Beverly Hills are such a unique problem for this city. For now, I have to find a faux diamond engagement ring with a center stone just small enough that few thieves are interested in slipping it off. Does anyone know what time the jewelry stalls in Santee Alley are open?
Tabby refael is a Los Angeles-based writer, speaker, and civic action activist. Follow her on twitter @RefaelTabby