Riverside police chief: ‘Pretty much every detective’ investigating home-invasion robberies

The Riverside Police Department has pulled detectives off other cases in an effort to solve a rash of home-invasion robberies in the city that has left residents frustrated and fearful.

“We were getting inundated with calls,” Police Chief Larry Gonzalez said Wednesday, May 18. “Pretty much every detective in the department is working on this.”

Residents have taken to social media to vent, wondering why there have been not only no arrests but also no solid description of the intruders or their cars provided. Some have suggested taking things into their own hands by pulling the trigger on the burglars.

So far detectives don’t have enough information to conclusively link the four burglaries or provide a concrete description of the bandits, Gonzalez said. And Gonzalez acknowledged keeping some information under wraps to protect the investigation.

So for now Gonzalez is providing reassurance and advice — some of it delivered in person.

He posted a message on the department’s Facebook page on Sunday in which he said patrols have been increased in the areas of the burglaries — three of them west of the Mission Grove area and one east of that on the other side of Sycamore Canyon Park.

And Monday, Gonzalez attended three Neighborhood Watch meetings that are normally staffed by an area commander.

“I could tell there was this sense of fear and anxiety in our community and I wanted to reassure them we are out there and will dedicate more resources in the area. … I understand people are scared, but try not to be so scared. Develop more awareness (instead).”

The reported home-invasion robberies are:

•  April 10 in the 7700 block of Kingdom Drive. Armed bandits burst into what police said was an illegal gambling operation.

• May 10 in the 14100 block of Ashton Lane. A family of three was duct-taped by the intruders

• May 15 in the 8000 block of Moss Road. A resident was wounded when he confronted three armed burglars.

• May 17 on Kyle Court. A woman was home alone upstairs when the burglary happened.

Gonzalez said a good first step is to know who belongs in your neighborhood and who doesn’t. Some Neighborhood Watch attendees were meeting their neighbors for the first time, Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez suggested adding or upgrading home alarm systems and adding lights and cameras in backyards, where some of the burglars have entered the homes.

“Dogs are a wonderful deterrent,” Gonzalez said.

Some residents have also suggested arming themselves. But the resident who was shot by an intruder on May 15 pointed a shotgun at the burglar, Gonzalez said.

One person responded to Gonzalez’s Facebook post by asking why there was no message reassuring residents of Arlanza, where three people were shot to death in late February and early March. And there was no message after three people were shot to death in two days in the first week of May in La Sierra.

Gonzalez said there has been comparatively little outcry about those homicides from residents of those neighborhoods, but that doesn’t mean the department is not taking those investigations seriously.

“Any murder investigation will still be right at the top of the list,” he said.

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