Two men broke into Sunny Side Up Cafe on Colorado Boulevard Feb. 2 at 2:20 a.m, according to Idan Klein, the owner of the cafe. Klein said that the perpetrators stole $30,000 in cash from their safe, 2 iPads, $500 from the register and a $10,000 Breitling watch. Klein said he arrived at the cafe at around 8 a.m. Feb. 3 to see the window smashed and the belongings stolen. After viewing the security footage, Klein said he believes that the men were professionals because they did not waste time and walked in and out of the store with ease. According to Klein, some people have been kind in the aftermath of the robbery, but he has received criticism from others.
“Some of them [the reactions] were very nice, and some of them were less nice, like, ‘Why would you keep too much money in the safe?’ or like it was our fault that we kept this much money here, but we’re not from here. We’ve only spent a year in LA,” Klein said. “We did not have to be exposed to stuff like this, big-city problems.”
Klein, originally from Israel, said that he is upgrading his security system and installing new cameras but wishes that police would patrol the area more. Klein said that he does not want to install security shutters for aesthetic reasons. Fernando Ochoa, a police officer for the North East Los Angeles district, said that security shutters can help prevent robbers from smashing store-front windows. Ochoa said that many stores in the area have inadequate security systems — which makes it more difficult for officers to respond on time — and surveillance cameras with poor camera quality, making it hard to identify suspects. According to Ochoa, personal security by shop owners is important because property crime alerts, or Code 30s, take a backseat to violent crime reports.
“One of the things we run into as a law enforcement agency is that the resources are moving to areas that are experiencing violent crimes. Rapes, murders, shootings. We have certain areas where a lot of our cars are sent. [A police car] might get called away to handle a call in East Hollywood, Echo Park. Those cars might be busy with an arrest that takes them 2–3 hours,” Ochoa said. “We need to hire more officers … the problem is, we have other parts of the city that are suffering more violent crime and so the first resources are going to go there.”
Ochoa said that Eagle Rock does not have a lot of violent crime, which is why it gets less attention than other violent neighborhoods.
“Thirty years ago, Eagle Rock was known for its nighttime burglars and window smashers. Unfortunately, things kind of haven’t changed,” Ochoa said. “This year we’ve had an increase in property crimes.”
Some of the residents and employees of the neighborhood feel unsafe in Eagle Rock. On Jan. 5, there was a string of five burglaries in one night alongside a series of 5 break-ins on the same night in Pasadena. Among those that were hit were restaurants Piencone Pizzeria and Casa Bianca. Two suspects were arrested Jan. 18 in connection with the 10 burglaries and were later charged.
Andrea Martorana, member of the founding family of Casa Bianca, said that she feels that crime has gotten worse in Eagle Rock during her time here. According to Martorana, her family is now considering getting security cameras after more than 60 years in the neighborhood. Piencone manager Steffan Ghantous said that the robbery of their facility has increased his wariness.
“Eagle Rock is — you gotta be careful,” Ghantous said. “I feel a little worried sometimes, closing at night, but I can handle it.”
Ochoa said that people often think that robberies are done by professionals because they wear dark clothing, masks or bandanas, but that in reality, it is not difficult for someone to burglarize shops in the area. According to Ochoa, Eagle Rock is very dark at night and the new large glass windows popular with many shop owners are easy to break. Ochoa also said that punishment for property theft is not as severe as it used to be. Still, the neighborhood is safe compared to other nearby Los Angeles neighborhoods like Highland Park, Echo Park or East Hollywood. Eagle Rock had 86.5 crimes per 10,000 people in the last six months compared to Echo Park’s 127.1 crimes per 10,000 people, according to the LA Times. Moreover, the neighborhood had 33 violent crimes and 265 property thefts in the last six months, while East Hollywood had 253 violent crimes and 862 property theft.
“In my opinion, in a lot of property crimes there aren’t consequences. It’s not hard to break a window, see what you can get in 2–3 minutes,” Ochoa said. “I told the neighborhood council meeting last night, if I lived in the city, I would live in Eagle Rock. I love this area because of how safe it is.”
Laura Porter, owner of the next-door Bloom School of Music and Dance, expressed her sympathy to the owners of Sunny Side Up Cafe. Porter said that her establishment will be increasing security measures but she does not think that the burglary represents the neighborhood.
“I do not think it reflects Eagle Rock at all. We’ve been here 11 years and we love it,” Porter said. “The guys next door work so hard and are so good at what they do. It’s so hard opening a business so I can’t even imagine what they’re going through.”