LONG BEACH — Everyone's heard of toddlers hiding their heads under the covers, but it was a teenager who tried to the old "I can't see you, you can't see me trick" with police last week, ducking behind a tree to avoid capture.

The ruse didn't work and the 15-year-old Lakewood youth was arrested for several auto burglaries in the El Dorado Park neighborhood.

Long Beach Police Department officials on Thursday credited an alert resident with the arrest and urged other residents to be as vigilant about crimes in their neighborhoods.

The call came in at about 2:20 a.m. Saturday in the 7800 block of Berner Street after a man noticed two people skulking around the area. When he went outside to check, he caught the pair rummaging through his own vehicle and called 911, said Marlene Arrona, a Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman.

Though the pair fled before police arrived, officers did a quick search and found two people matching the suspects' description,

"One suspect fled and remains outstanding," Arrona said. "When officers approached the second suspect, a 15-year-old Lakewood male, he dropped a backpack and attempted to hide behind a tree."

Inside the backpack were various stolen items, she said.

Officers soon found that four unlocked vehicles had been burgled. The suspects had checked which cars were left unlocked, the spokeswoman said.

The investigation is ongoing and police are asking residents in the area to come forward if they have been victims of an unreported auto burglary.


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Residents are also reminded not to leave their cars unlocked and not to leave valuable items in their cars, such as purses, wallets, and electronics, which includes cell phones, MP3 players, laptops and GPS devices.

Police also suggest that residents:

Park in well-lit areas.

Use garages to store vehicles, and keep them locked.

Activate your alarm system every night, or consider installing one.

Lock your vehicle and close all windows before leaving it.

Keep all packages, boxes, bags and valuables locked in the trunk, or take them with you.

If you must leave valuables in the trunk, store them before you arrive at your destination.

If the trunk can be opened without a key from inside of your car, lock or disable this feature.

Do not leave any connector cables (GPS, phone, MP3) or docking stations in plain sight.

Once home, unload your valuables immediately and do not store them in your car.

Always report suspicious people or activity immediately by calling 911 or the Long Beach Police Department dispatch at 562-435-6711.

Anyone with information regarding the auto burglaries is asked to call Detective David Rivas of the Juvenile Investigations details at 562-570-1433 or 562-570-1425. Anonymous tips can be made by calling 800-222-TIPS (8477), or text TIPLA plus your tip to 274637 (CRIMES), or go to http://lacrimestoppers.org/.

tracy.manzer@presstelegram.com, 562-499-1261, twitter.com/tmanzer