A pair of neighborhood dads in Los Angeles, California, have taken matters into their own hands to fight soaring crime in recent months. But now, they say they're "tired of it" and have decided to pack their bags with their families and ditch the area.
The two neighbors, identified only as Michael and Josh in recent report by local news outlet KTTV-TV, have retrieved a stolen car, fought off robbers, and tracked thieves with AirTags, all within the span of 18 months. Yet still, brazen criminals continue to stalk and harass their Playa Del Rey condo complex time and again.
"The number of instances that have happened in the year and a half that I’ve lived here has been in the half-dozen range, and I’m tired of it," Michael told the outlet in an interview. "I’m tired of losing our property."
The latest robbery served as the straw that broke the camel's back for Michael, who said he plans to move to Texas. Thieves reportedly broke into a locked parking garage and stole his elderly neighbor's car. Only 12 hours later, another neighbor spotted it about a mile down the road at a homeless RV camp.
So, Michael and his neighbor Josh grabbed a spare key and hopped in a car and drove down Jefferson Avenue to retrieve the stolen vehicle. They soon spotted it, and once they figured out how to drive the Toyota Prius, they were off.
"It was nice to get the car back for the owner," Josh said, smiling. "Win one for the good guys."
Fed up with LA crime, neighbors take action into their own hands www.youtube.com
But prior to their heroic and blissful win, the neighbors had taken several losses. KTTV reported that thieves had made off with several padlocked bikes stored in the same parking garage.
One time, Michael encountered a thief and decided to confront him. Surveillance video shows the dad tackling the criminal to the ground and ripping the bike from his hands — but even that didn't stop him. The thief was back a couple days later to steal more property.
Josh opted to start tracking the whereabouts of his e-bikes with Apple AirTags, small coin-sized devices that can attach to items and signal their location to a connected Apple phone or computer. Three were taken: one to Marina Del Rey and two others to the homeless RV camp.
"I tracked it to that encampment, called the cops, they came and helped me retrieve it," Josh said. "It was being disassembled as [we] walked up at a bike chop shop."
Per Los Angeles rules, authorities stopped towing illegally parked RVs during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing encampments to rapidly clutter neighborhoods. The moratorium was finally lifted last week following a city council vote. But much damage had already been done.
Members of the community claim the encampments quickly became epicenters for crime and debauchery.
"They're ruining the environment," said one Playa del Rey resident, Lucy Han, during the council meeting. "They're defecating, they're urinating in the area. ... There's human sex trafficking. We've had four shootings."
KTTV said the Jefferson Avenue encampment is even home to a meth lab.
The pervasive crime has reportedly caused "good guys" like Michael and Josh to "hit the road for good," the outlet noted.
Michael said: "We’re making that move partially because what’s going on but partially because it just feels like L.A. is going backwards, not forwards."