The Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department announced on Wednesday the arrest of six accused auto burglars in the Chinatown area. These arrests, officers say, come from efforts to deal with a growing crime problem in the area.
“We’ve seen an increase of theft crimes, specifically car break-ins, in Chinatown,” said LVMPD Lieutenant Joshua Bitsko.
These crimes have often been difficult to prosecute, since many of them go unreported.
“Historically, the Asian community has been hesitant to report crimes to police,” Bitsko said. “That was one of the obstacles that Spring Valley Area Command, that we have dealt with.”
Bitsko said criminals, particularly auto burglars, know that crimes in Chinatown often go unreported, which attracts them to the area.
They prowl the area, find a target car, break the window, and steal anything they can find – all in ten to 15 seconds. And without police knowing that anything happens, they often see no consequences.
“I need people to report crimes so we know how to effectively deploy our officers,” said Bitsko.
LVMPD has been working to change that. They’ve worked with community leaders to encourage residents to report all crimes.
Bitsko says the efforts have been successful. In 2019 alone, about 100 car break-ins have been reported in the Spring Valley Area Command. These reports let police know to send out teams to surveil the watch the area and keep a look out for people looking to break into cars.
The six arrests announced today were a direct result of that effort. Bitsko says they were found with burglary tools in their possession, searching for cars to break into.
“These are suspects that were terrorizing the Chinatown area by breaking into cars,” said Bitsko.
Three of these suspects, Tyrone Brown, Milton Wallace and Marvin Brown reside in Las Vegas. Three additional suspects, Mack Woodfox, Luka Beita and Nicolas West reside in Oakland, California.
After their arrests, the search warrants were served, and the suspects were found in possession what detectives believe to be stolen property. Now, officers need to connect this property to previously-reported crimes.
“We believe that they’re responsible for many crimes,” Bitsko said. “It’s just trying to back-track.”
These arrests on their own do not solve the problem with break-ins in the area, Bitsko acknowledged. However, it’s a step towards curbing the problem.
“Just because we have these people in custody doesn’t mean that this problem’s going away,” said Bitsko. “This is a problem that the LVMPD is taking seriously, and we are working daily.”
Bitsko took the opportunity to remind citizens to not leave valuables in their cars, and take their car keys with them when they leave. Bitsko also emphasized the importance of reporting crimes.
“What we ask is, please, when you are the victim of a crime, please report it. That increase has really helped us in how we deploy our officers,” said Bitsko.