The Boiling Point

Alumna safe after LAPD takes 25 minutes to arrive at home invasion robbery in Beverlywood

ROBBERY: Alumna Annie Asch ‘14 appears on KTLA news after robbers broke into her home July 22. She hid in her closet and was afraid to come out even after police arrived.  Suspects escaped despite a police perimeter.

Screenshot From KTLA.com

ROBBERY: Alumna Annie Asch ‘14 appears on KTLA news after robbers broke into her home July 22. She hid in her closet and was afraid to come out even after police arrived. Suspects escaped despite a police perimeter.

Eric Bazak, Features Editor

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It took around 25 minutes for police to arrive at alumna Annelise Asch’s house on Tuesday afternoon, July 22. Annie spent those minutes locked in her closet, as two robbers broke into her home and attempted to stash some valuables in a suitcase.

Fortunately, Annie and her house were left relatively unscathed, as the robbers left the home, located on Airdrome Street near Canfield School, before police arrived and without the suitcase filled with possessions.

Annie was not disappointed with how long it took for the police to get to her door, saying they stayed on the phone with her, quickly arranged for ways of catching the men, and situated a helicopter overhead.

“The helicopter was above my house within a minute,” Annie said in an interview.  “The woman on the phone explained that they were setting up a perimeter around my house to make sure that they caught the men. So I honestly think that they handled it as best they could and came in when I needed them. “

But the robbers were not caught.  Annie overheard them saying they didn’t have much time before police would arrive, but in fact they had nearly half an hour.

Police department officials have not shared the incident report with The Boiling Point, though it is a public record under state law.

An LAPD spokesman who would not give his name and said he was not familiar with the case said response time depends on a “code” that the 911 dispatcher assigns based on the urgency of the call.  “Non-coded” is the least urgent category and Code 3 is the most.

In an e-mail to The Boiling Point, the officer said only a Code 3 permits the use of sirens and flashing lights, which speed police response.

“WLA [LAPD’s West Los Angeles division] is currently at 7.7 minutes for Code 3, 20.2 [minutes for] Code 2, and 39 [minutes] for non-coded,” the unnamed officer wrote from LAPD’s Media Relations Section, pio.lapd.lacity.gov. “But there are many factors that effect [sic] response time.”

Annie, who graduated last June and plans to start UC Santa Cruz this month, said the incident started around 2:45 p.m. when she saw two men approaching the back door of her home.

The pair of men shattered the back door glass, then reached through and opened it from the inside.

In response, Annie immediately locked her bedroom door and hid in the closet, then called 911. She heard the robbers try to break into her bedroom, and she heard them say to one another that they did not have much time before police would enter the scene.

When the police did arrive, Annie was initially too scared to get out of the closet and greet them.

“I stayed because I had heard the men trying to open my door before the police arrived, and I wasn’t sure if they had really left,” Annie said. “But it actually was the police at my door.”

Police set up a perimeter near Airdrome and Oakhurst streets, according to the community website picorob.com, and sent police dogs and the helicopter to try and spot the fleeing suspects. Airdrome was closed off for approximately three hours.

But the suspects disappeared and have not been caught as of this writing.

“The whole scene created a huge jam because they blocked off all of Airdrome, so if you wanted to drive somewhere, you had to go in a detour in order to leave,” said junior Josh Joffe, who lives nearby.

“I believe that Beverlywood is still safe, but … I do not think the cops have been doing the best they can, because they showed up at Annie’s house a long time after she asked them for help. Who knows what could have happened in 25 minutes, I’m just grateful that she is O.K.”

Annie herself seemed only mildly upset by the incident.

“I wouldn’t say that I am now traumatized or afraid to be home alone,” she said in an interview, “but I am maybe just a bit more on edge and alert after what happened.”

It was the second day in a row that LAPD had been sent to Beverlywood. On July 21, helicopters and at least eight police cars had set up a perimeter trying to catch robbers near Crest Drive and Cashio Street.  According to picorob.com, that perimeter also failed to net a suspect.

In the case of the Asch incident, witnesses writing on picorob.com said the robbers escaped through a hole in the perimeter at Cashio and Cardiff Streets, resulting from a police officer leaving that post despite being stationed there.

Those reports could not be confirmed. Repeated inquiries of LAPD’s Media Relations section received only general replies.

Though the Media Relations Section would not confirm it, since police arrived at Annie’s house 25 minutes after her call, they presumably assigned the case a Code 2 – average response time of 20 minutes — implying that it was not serious enough to require sirens for the fastest possible arrival.

The Boiling Point attempted to reach police again Aug. 20 to ask why an 18-year-old girl being trapped in a closet with two robbers trying to break into her room was not serious enough for a Code 3.

Another unnamed spokesman, who finally responded Aug. 25 but once again was unfamiliar with the case and would not give his name, told the newspaper to continue to wait and that someone would call back from the department’s West LA Division. There has been no call so far.

He also would not share the official police report, saying The Boiling Point could not see it because a reporter did not have a professional media pass.

“Long story short, your request was sent to the West LA division — who may have more details for you — and the discovery unit,” the officer said in a phone interview. “But they can probably only give you redacted reports if at all because you don’t have a media pass since you are writing for your high school newspaper.”

The California Public Records Act  of 1968 requires disclosure of governmental records to the public upon request, unless a particular report or agency is exempted for some reason by a court or by law.

Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center in Arlington, Virginia, said the police have no authority to decline public records to the Boiling Point, with or without a media pass.

“The law does not make a distinction between the right of access for a journalist or the general public,” Mr. LoMonte said. “A lot of times police agencies have their own internal polices where they try to discourage people from bothering them, but they cannot have a policy that is inconsistent with the state law.”

Annie herself was given a police report, but she said in an interview that it was “basically illegible.”

The night of the incident, KTLA 5 broadcast interviews with Annie and her mother, Mrs. Beth Asch. Mrs. Asch said she was just thankful her daughter was left unhurt.

“I was scared about her,” Mrs. Asch said. “Things can be replaced, so I’m thankful she is O.K.”

Fortunately, the mere threat of a police force was enough to drive away these intruders. A more violent criminal may have needed a greater threat than a 911 call to impede his plans.

Related: We would love to hear the police’s side of the story

This story won a National News Writing Award in the 2015 Quill & Scroll International Writing and Photo Competition, judged by the American Society of News Editors.

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Meet the Writer
Eric Bazak, Editor-in-Chief Emeritus

After serving as staff writer, Features Editor, and Outside News Editor over the previous three years, Eric Bazak served as Editor-in-Chief for the 2015-16 school year. He is currently a freshman at UCLA.
Eric won numerous awards for his work on the Boiling Point.

CSPA 2015 Gold Circle Certificate of Merit in News Writing (print)
CSPA 2015 AGold Circle Certificate of Merit in In-depth/Feature Story (print)
Quill & Scroll 2016 National Award in Profile Writing
Quill & Scroll 2015 National Award in News Writing
Jewish Scholastic Press Association, 2014 2nd Prize in News & Feature Writing

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Alumna safe after LAPD takes 25 minutes to arrive at home invasion robbery in Beverlywood