July 11th: UPDATED WITH CORRECTED INFORMATION ABOUT DATES OF DISCOVERY / VERIFICATION:
The mission of LMHOA is to secure a safe, sound, beautiful, comfortable community, and our measure of “safe” is zero crimes against people or property.
We’ve had an unbroken streak for many years, but on Monday, May 22, a storage bodega next to the car wash showed signs of having been broken into. That bodega is used by our landscape contractor to store various things. David ordered the door fixed, the locks upgraded and an investigation begun.
The investigation looked for additional evidence: We have a recorded security camera operating on that corner of the property. We also requested that the landscape contractor tell us if anything was taken.
Between May 22 and 28th, we learned that a leaf blower was taken from the landscaping bodega. Another bodega, which houses the generator and is not locked, was entered and the battery for the generator taken. We don't know exactly when it was taken, but we believe it was taken at the same time as the leaf blower.
Last, at 4:30 AM on Sunday morning, May 28th, a prowler was spotted in the area on the video camera. The same security camera noted our Security Guard walking by the same area about 45 minutes before. The recording shows the prowler leaving empty handed. We believe that the prowler was unsuccessful in taking anything further on May 28. (Note: By that time, the locks had been upgraded.)
The HOA is taking the following actions:
- We have added additional lighting in the area.
- We are blocking the hole in the hedge line by extending the fencing from the car wash area down the entire hedge line.
- We have already hardened the locks on the bodegas.
- Security will pay additional attention to that area on its patrols.
- We have evaluated other bodegas to ensure they are suitably secure.
The threat situation at Las Mañanitas remains basically unchanged, but prudence dictates that all Units and Garages be secured when unattended.
Notice; How We Reported This
Security reported the broken bodega lock on May 22nd; it was repaired right away and the landscape contractor later confirmed that one of his leafblowers was taken.
David reported the incident to me at our weekly call on Tuesday the 30th and asked for guidance about whether to involve an insurance claim, a police report and what sort of notification we should send to Owners. I met with David at the site on Wednesday, took the above pictures and reviewed not only what happened but what prospectively we could do to secure things further. (I wanted the announcement for the Owners to include "next steps," not just "what happened.")
The Board evaluated my briefing quickly, and we decided that I should write up a message for all Owners ASAP. I planned to do that by writing this blog post and then summarizing it in the newsletter that should have gone out the first week of June. I did not get that done prior to having some business and family imperatives delay the newsletter until after I get back to my desk on the 20th of June. I should have had Diana send out a simple email when the newsletter got delayed.
Two of the people in the Board meeting mentioned the incident to some long-time residents, who then quizzed the guards and, upon hearing that there were two incidents, concluded that there were two break-ins and that the Administration was hiding the information.
I apologize for the untimely notification; I believe strongly in our values of transparency, integrity and consideration. But here's another opportunity to observe that questionable actions (or failure to act) should not be attributed to malevolence when negligence is more likely. The delay here was simply negligence ... a dropped ball --- which I dropped.
But let me be clear: We believe there was only ONE break-in/theft. Yes, there was another person seen in the area (what I'm calling a "prowler"), but they left empty-handed.
We do, on occasion have people try to enter the property from the beach, the arroyo and the highway -- but they either leave empty-handed or are confronted by Security. Given the public drinking in the parking lot between us and Campestre, I'm surprised we don't have more interlopers. But it is what it is. We must keep up our patrols and take prudent measures to secure the property so that we "don't tempt the humans."