Del Rey residents blame rise in crime, fires on increase in local homeless population

Just one day after a fire killed an alleged squatter and injured another at a home in the Del Rey neighborhood of Los Angeles, residents reached out to FOX 11 with concerns about the local homeless population, blaming them for robberies and fires in the area.

Several residents who live on a cul-de-sac off of Sanford Street shared multiple photos and security videos showing robberies and more, which they say are because of the rise of nearby homeless encampments. One of the videos shows a person walking out of a resident's home with his "phones, my wallet, my ID, my money," all while he was sleeping in the home. His neighbor shared video of several people jumping a wall behind a home after allegedly stealing stuff from a back porch.

A third resident found a black back left in his backyard. In it, "a Glock automatic with no safety, [a] bullet in the chamber, full of rounds, and drum of 50 bullets, which was full," he said. 

He turned the bag over to police.

Now, after Tuesday's fatal house fire, residents say they're rattled.

"Just shaken up by something that happened so close to you. A life was lost," said one resident. "We've had similar situations here with fire, with criminal activities. [It's] just the state of feeling so unsafe."

The man who found the gun in his yard said the neighborhood "never had a robbery until the last two years. And then we've had homeless encampments; we had a huge fire back there; we have the RVs at the end of our street. It's scary."

Residents said that while they appreciate signs prohibiting overnight parking right in front of the homes, they claim the RVs have moved a block away and that the problems haven't stopped. 

FOX 11 spoke to one man off-camera, who lives in an encampment near the underpass of the 91 Freeway. He said he's not one of the people his neighbors are having problems with, and that "he can't help what they do," referring to the thieves, "and it gets blamed on us. I don't think it's right."

Another man who lives in the nearby RVs said he doesn't "think crime has gone up because we're here… Yeah. We're struggling. We're trying to survive, but I don't know anybody that would go and break into somebody's house."

Los Angeles City Councilmember Traci Park represents the area. She said there are at least 14,000 RVs on city streets in LA, calling many of them "unsafe and unsanitary."

"There have been many instances of fires, injuries and deaths behind it, and people in the city and across Los Angeles are right to be worried about this," Park said.

Park said that she's working on proposals to further limit RV parking in the city.