Friday, June 17, 2022

City to fight crime with automatic license plate readers

The city council has directed city staff to go forward with a plan to deploy automated license plate cameras at key locations throughout the city to assist deputies to detect and locate vehicles that are wanted or have been reported stolen or used during the commission of a crime.

The council approved a proposal Tuesday evening by a 3 to 1 vote to place ten cameras at locations throughout the city selected by the La Mirada Public Safety unit and the Crime Analyst at Norwalk Station after determining that they would be most effective detecting the passing of stolen and wanted vehicles in real time as well as record the license plates and vehicle images for later investigations of serious crimes.

The cameras are not used in any way to enforce traffic laws.  

The system comes at a cost of just over $20,800 per year for five years and is compatible with one already in place at the sheriff's department.

When a camera detects a vehicle that is wanted in a felony crime, stolen, or connected to a missing person the vehicle information, image, and location is immediately relayed to dispatchers and the computer screens into patrol vehicles. When available a sheriff's helicopter is also dispatched to assist in the search.

Such a system will be helpful into investigations such as shootings, robberies, and catalytic converter thefts where the information recorded by the system can help detectives solve cases that now go unresolved.

Monday, June 6, 2022

Analysis and an Endorsement for the District 2 Seat: Integrity, Community Service, and showing up counts

Residents of District 2 in the southeast section of La Mirada are selecting a council member for a four-year term in what many view as a referendum on Andrew Sarega, who is seeking a third term despite stating that he supports term limits.

During a failed 2018 campaign for an Orange County congressional seat that did not represent La Mirada, Sarega told voters in his platform statement that he would not run in 2022 for council because if he were unable to fulfill promises he made to voters in eight years "what are the chances I would do it in 30 years when energy and motivation are low?"

Looking to unseat Sarega are David Constantine who lists among his many accomplishments serving as president of the Kiwanis of La Mirada and has been one of the most active members of the community with local PTA's, and former school board trustee Chris Pflanzer who has. Both have extensive histories of service to the community and when it counts they are there for La Mirada. Sarega? Well, he is a good candidate to be featured on a milk carton.

Yes, June 7th is fast approaching and if it's election season you can count on a new round of election signs being vandalized and stolen and a rant by the elder Satega, John will get him ejected from a city council meeting, you can also bet the farm that controversy will swirl around one of the Sarega's.

In 2013 Andrew was going to remake City Hall, out with the 'Good ol' Boys. In 2015 his father also ran for a seat on the council. 2017 was a scandal involving mailers that were sent to voters making vicious attacks on Andrew's opponent Pauline Deal and John Lewis who was running against Tony Aiello of the La Mirada Blog a friend of Andrew's and last election John Sarega, Jackie Fowler, a Sarega proxy running against Steve De Ruse and members of her family attempted to engage De Ruse in a shouting match inside council chambers to bring a quick adjournment to an already completed meeting.

For the record, both Sarega and Aiello have stated they had no involvement in the mailer fiasco and it happened to be a strange coincidence the mailers were printed and sent out by the same obscure printer in Texas.

In deciding which candidate is best suited for public office there are a number of factors to consider including community involvement and interaction, their platform, and ability to put it into motion, and of the utmost importance is integrity.

Andrew and John Sarega reside in the same home and have their personal interests very much intertwined so please bear with me. 

In 2003 John Sarega operated a smog inspection business on Rosecrans Avenue in Santa Fe Springs and had his right to ever operate a repair business again revoked by the state Bureau of Automotive Repair (BAR) the following year after a series of criminal convictions for engaging in a scheme called clean piping.

Clean piping occurs when a shop hooks up smog inspection equipment to a vehicle that runs 'clean' and will pass a smog inspection then entering the VIN number into DMV records for a car that runs 'dirty' and will not pass inspection in order to issue a passing smog certificate for the vehicle.

In 2011 both Sarega's formed RRK Motors and were issued a DMV license to operate an auto dealership which eventually moved operations to a location on Valley View Avenue. In 2016 investigators from the agency that regulates repair facilities BAR issued a citation to Andrew Sarega of RRK Motors for operating an unlicensed repair shop while a seated member of the city council and just months removed from being a Newport Beach police officer.

Several visits in 2019 by La Mirada News to the RRK Motors business found John Sarega operating an unlicensed body repair shop with multiple employees after hours and on weekends in what appeared an attempt to avoid detection by BAR investigators. 

During the same time period, the DMV license that allowed RRK Motors to operate had expired while four of the vehicles driven by members of the Sarega family outfitted with dealer plates continued to be driven instead of registering the vehicles and paying fees through DMV. When informed of this fact John Sarega moved to see that their DMV license was brought back into compliance. 

RRK Motors appears to no longer be in business. Its offices have been shuttered and all the wrecked and used vehicles for sale have been removed and the state suspended its right to operate as a corporation in 2020.  The RRK DMV license has expired yet vehicles that still have the registration fee dodging dealer plates attached and an Orange Ford Mustang driven by the councilman himself with Oregon license plates can be found at the Sarega home.

Andrew Sarega has failed to address his high absentee rate, lack of community participation nor why he is running for a third term despite proclaiming earlier that he favored term limits. 

Sarega is running on a platform that pushes a plan for the city to replace all the privately-owned block walls which appear to be in a state of disrepair in many places with new uniform walls at taxpayer expense. A city report on such a proposal prepared for the council came with a hefty price tag when adjusted for inflation nears $200 Million. This is more money than is spent in the city on law enforcement and fire and rescue services in La Mirada over a ten-year period. The city will need to purchase a printing press to print the money to pay for this proposal.

Both David Constantine and Chris Pflanzer are both good candidates and would serve the city well if elected to the city council. La Mirada News prefers David Constantine because he has put forward in a clear and distinct platform a series of goals that center on public safety and the safety and development of the youth of La Mirada that the city budget can accommodate.

La Mirada News endorses David Constantine on June 7th for the District 2 city council seat.

Friday, May 6, 2022

Sarega faces stiff competition in District 2 re-election bid

Two candidates with an extensive record of service to the community are looking to unseat La Mirada city council member Andrew Sarega in his bid for a third term in the District 2 election in June. 

Chris Pflanzer, who served nine years as a Norwalk-La Mirada Unified School District board member is one of the candidates and cites public safety as his top priority.

Pflanzer, who has operated his own business for 39 years has served on more than a dozen community organizations including the La Mirada Community Foundation says fiscal responsibility and responsible leadership are also priorities if elected. 

Taking direct aim at Sarega and his frequent absences at city council meetings is David Constantine

Constantine has coined the incumbent as 'No Show Sarega' in a mailer sent to voters, points out Sarega has been absent from 32 percent of council meetings since April 21, 2021 and has missed the equivalent of a year and a half of meetings during his nine years on the city council.

Like Pflanzer, Constantine calls public safety his top priority and also has an extensive resume of service to the community as President of the Kiwanis Club, as a volunteer with Love La Mirada, local PTA's and more. 

Sarega, the two-term incumbent was the youngest person ever elected to the city council at age 25 in 2013 and is seeking a third term despite vowing he would not seek re-election in 2018 during a failed campaign for the 39th congressional seat in Orange County.

Having now reached that term-limit he supported for politicians while he still had four years remaining in his current term, Sarega has now reversed his opinion as his term nears its end telling those attending the Chamber of Commerce candidates forum last night that he now favored letting voters decide if eight years was enough.

Image from Sarega 2018 congressional campaign platform statement

In support of not seeking a third term back in 2018, Sarega states in his election platform "If I am unable to do it in two four-year terms, what are the chances that I will do it in 30".

Sarega has accomplished one goal he championed prior to his election. He successfully joined an effort with the current Mayor, Ed Eng introducing the availability of recorded video from city council meetings online.

Sarega shares the same goal the other candidates possess in expanding the number of sports fields available for youth sports.

Sarega has been promoting a plan to improve the asthetics of La Mirada's major roadways by replacing all the block walls at city expense along those roads. Such a plan if instituted would cost taxpayers $195 Million to $225 million to complete over a 10-year period.

The former police officer lists public safety last on his platform while Constantine and Pflanzer place it as their top priority.

Wednesday, March 9, 2022

La Mirada Crime Blotter for February 2022

Tues  Feb 1

5:15 a.m.    A catalytic converter theft was reported in the 15000 block of Campillos Rd.

1:45 p.m.    A suspect was arrested at Imperial Hwy and Santa Gertrudes Av behind the Marshall's center for assaulting deputies while resisting detention or arrest.

Weds  Feb 2

3;20 p.m.    An arrest was made in the 12300 block of La Mirada Bl for shoplifting.

3:50 p.m.     An arrest was made for a felony weapons violation in the 14900 block of Leffingwell Rd.

10:10 p.m.   A non-injury hit-and-run collision was reported at Valley View Av and Adoree St

Fri Feb 4

2:50 a.m.     A catalytic converter was reported stolen in the 14400 block of Adelfa Dr.

Sat Feb 5

3:15 a.m.     A vehicle theft was reported in the 15400 block of La Mirada Bl

Sun Feb 6

8:30 a.m.    A vehicle break-in was reported at the La Mirada County Golf Course, 15501 Alicante Rd,  A purse was taken from the vehicle.

2:40 p.m.    The grand theft of a cell phone was reported in the 16100 block of Rosecrans Ave. The phone was taken from an unlocked vehicle.

8:50 p.m.    A domestic violence assault was reported in the 15700 block of Valley View Av

Mon Feb 7

7:21 p.m.    A shoplifting arrest was made in the 14800 block of Telegraph Rd.

Tues Feb 8

4:00 a.m.     A catalytic converter theft was reported in the 14700 block of Gandesa Rd.

11:59 a.m.   A catalytic converter theft was reported in the 15300 block of San Bruno Dr,

11:52 p.m.  Theft of copper wiring was reported from the construction site in the 13800 block of Valley View Ave. 

5:25 p.m.    A hit-and-run incident was reported at Rosecrans Ave and Santa Gertrudes Ave. No injuroes were suffered in the collision.

Thur Feb 10

4:17 p.m.    A shoplifting arrest was made in the 14200 block of Rosecrans Av.

9:32 p.m.    A known suspect attempted to take a vehicle by force from a woman in the 14300 block of Valley View Ave.

Fri Feb 11

11:59 a.m.   A shoplifting arrest was made in the 15700 block of Imperial Hwy.

6:44 p.m.    An arrest alleging possession of a controlled substance was made at Valley View Av and Gannet St.

Sat Feb 12

2:50 a.m.    A hit-and-run collision was reported at Peppertree Lane and Ranch Lane in the Hillsborough neighborhood of the city. No injuries were reported.

4:37 p.m.    A catalytic converter was stolen from the 13000 block of Santa Gertrudes Ave.

9:55 p.m.    An Attempted theft of a truck was reported in the 14400 block of Elmrock Ave.

Mon Feb 14

4:15 a.m.    A vehicle theft was reported in the 14600 block of La Mesa Dr.

8:30 p.m.    Shoplifting was reported in the 15800 block of Imperial Hwy.

8:40 p.m.    Domestic violence was reported in the 13300 blocl of Marlette Dr.

8:50 p.m.    Shoplifting was reported in the 14800 block of Telegraph Rd,

Tues Feb 15

5:46 p.m.    An arrest was made for possession of a controlled substance at Valley View Ave and Rosecrans Ave.

6:12 p.m.    A catalytic converter theft was reported in the 16000 block of Phoebe Av.

10:00 p.m.  An arrest was made in the 16000 block of Canary Ave alleging a felony weapons law violation.

Weds Feb 16

7:25 p.m.    Felony shoplifting (loss over $950) was reported in the 15900 block of Imperial Hwy.

Thur Feb 17

5:00 a.m.    A vehicle theft was reported in the 14700 block of Florita Rd.

12:00 p.m.  A mit-and-run incident was reported at Plantana Dr and Leisure Dr. No injures were reported.

Fri  Feb 18

3:30 a.m.    A burglary at a business was reported in the 16100 block of Canary Ave.

2:35 p.m.    An assault was reported in the 13500 block of Woodridge Ave.

3:30 p.m.    A Domestic violence assault was reported in the 12700 block of Gabbett Dr.

Sun Feb 20

9:22 a.m.    Shoplifting was reported in the 14800 block of Telegraph Rd.

Mon Feb 21

12:22 a.m.  An attempt vehicle theft was reported in the 15600 block of Hesse Dr.

Tues Feb 22

3:00 a.m.    The theft of copper pipes was reported stolen from the construction site in the 13800 blocl of Valley View Av

2:00 p.m.    An arrest was made for possession of a controlled substance in the 14600 block of Firestone Blvd.

3:43 p.m.   An arrest was made for a felony weapons law violation in the 13200 block of Marquardt Ave.

Fri  Feb 25

Midnight    A hit-and-run was reported at Biola Ave and Gardenhill Dr. No injuries were reported.

12:42 a.m.  A residential burglary was reported in the 14500 block of San Cristobal Dr. The suspect was arrested later while driving a stolen vehicle.

The following incidents were also reported in La Mirada in the month of Febuary. Some of the information was unavailable at the time this information was compiled.

*A strong arm robbery was reported at Home Depot. A female assaulted a loss prevention employee as she was taking merchandise that she failed to pay for nor received as a gift.

*Tools were taken from an unlocked vehicle in the 15500 block of Talbot Dr.

*A purse and backpack were taken from an unlocked vehicle in the 14200 block of Rosecrans Ave,

*Catalytic converters were reported stolen in the 13800 block of Adoree Street, and the 13100 block of Ocaso Ave.