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Flood victims ask for increased police patrol after looting in Shelltown

Posted at 5:11 PM, Jun 09, 2024

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — Most neighbors on Beta Street in the Shelltown area are still working to move back into their homes after the January 22 floods.

However, several residents say thieves are making a tough task even harder.

"It's like a ghost town," said Monica Garcia, whose 89-year-old mother has lived on the street for decades.

The street is far from what it was even a year ago. Flooding from the storm and the overwhelmed Chollas Creek crippled homes on the block.

"There's probably about three to four families that are back," Garcia said. "This is a total free-for-all all for anybody."

In the "ghost town," with nobody to protect their belongings, the looters are out.

Garcia said even with her family's belongings locked up, their home has been burglarized twice in a week and a half. She said $3,000 worth of her son's DJ equipment, lighting synthesizers, kitchen appliances, and her daughter's childhood belongings were stolen.

She claims someone tried to take her family's belongings a third time as well. "They just went through everything," Garcia said.

Her neighbor, a man who identified himself as Richard, said it's happening to him too.

"It's horrible," he added. "In disaster areas,, looters come in, scammers come, and the thieves come."

Richard said he called 911 and officers from the San Diego Police Department responded quickly. He is still attempting to move out of the hotel where he is staying with government-paid lodging assistance. He's not entirely sure what is missing from his belongings.

This is not the first report of looters preying on flood victims in Shelltown.

In February, the Ramirez family told ABC 10News they were burglarized twice.

Garcia wants increased police patrols around the neighborhood to combat the thefts.

"Their presence is so powerful that maybe it will be a deterrent for these burglars to come," she said. "Even in the day, they burglarize because that's how brazen they become."

Garcia said she is not even close to getting her mom moved back into the home, and the thieves are just making it tougher.

ABC 10News reached out to the San Diego Police Department for comment on this story but has not heard back yet.

In March, police said there were five other break-ins at flooded homes since the January flooding, which prompted increased patrols.