Burbank police issued a crime alert Thursday night after neighbors expressed rising concerns following a recent rash of residential burglaries.
In the area bordered by North Glenoaks Boulevard, East Walnut Boulevard, North Kenneth Road and Andover Drive, residents said they're concerned after five homes were burglarized in the community since Nov. 19.
Fourteen homes in a one-mile radius of the area, including the five, were broken into since November, according to police records.
Longtime Burbank resident Jack Hein, who has lived on the hillside for 40 years, said he has never seen this level of criminal activity so close to his home.
"There are even some neighbors that haven't slept for days and are afraid to leave their homes," he said.
The thefts have involved mostly cash and jewelry. The burglars often enter the homes by prying open windows and doors, typically in the rear of the building, according to police reports.
There is no evidence that all of the crimes are connected, police officials said.
Hein said he suspects that the perpetrators work in teams by knocking on doors to see if residents are home. If someone answers the door, the suspects leave, but if the house appears empty, the home is targeted in what is commonly referred to as "knock-knock burglaries."
All the burglaries have occurred between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., with the most recent on Tuesday, according to police reports.
A gardener in the 500 block of Cornell Drive saw two men walk up to the residence to knock on the door. When no one answered, the man saw the men enter the backyard and appear inside the house, officials said.
According to the police report, the witness believed the men to be construction workers until he was informed by the victim that jewelry, an iPad and a digital camera were taken from the home. The two men were seen driving a Toyota Camry with tinted windows.
The rear sliding door lock was pried open.
At 10:25 a.m. Dec. 21, another witness saw a Chevrolet truck drop off two men in dark clothing at the front door of a house in the 600 block of University Avenue. After no one answered the door, the witness saw the men pry open a side door.
Jewelry and a handgun were taken from the home, according to the police report.
The witness said the truck had a white toolbox in its back bed and a white sticker on the driver's-side door.
"My neighbors have told me that it seems like these guys are professionals because they know exactly where to look," Hein said.
Burbank police say the best protection against home burglary is to make your home look like it's occupied, and recommend leaving a television or radio on, an automatic timer for lights or a dog inside the house.
"But a great prevention plan is to meet your neighbors and look out for one another," said Sgt. Robert Quesada. "Call the police if you think something doesn't look right."
The residents in the hillside area have done just that, sharing stories and information, Hein said.
"I'm sure your neighbor will not be angry because you called the police on their behalf," Quesada said.
Sgt. Darin Ryburn also encouraged residents to take notes on anything suspicious in the neighborhood, and to let neighbors know when leaving town.
"Residents know their neighborhood better than we do," Ryburn said. "Write down a description of a car and take down its license plate if it looks out of place."