Q: I was out walking the other day and a man walked up to me and asked me for directions. He asked for money to catch the bus because he locked his keys and wallet in his car. I went home and told my friend about the incident and she told me the same thing happened to her a month ago. Although nothing happened, the incident felt strange. Could this have been a set-up to rob me? Should I call the police in this situation?

A: Yes, you should always be mindful of your personal safety, even if there is nothing that appears criminal on the surface. If a stranger approaches you on the street and the conversation/incident makes you uncomfortable or suspicious, you should leave the area and call the police to report the incident immediately. If you should find yourself in this type of situation keep these tips in mind:

• You should always make eye contact with the person. This lets the person know you see them and you know what they look like.

• Keep a safe distance from the person while talking to them — at least 3 feet of space between you.

• If you decide you don’t want to listen and you want to leave the area, look over your shoulder every few seconds to make sure you are not being followed.

• If you decide to listen to this person, position yourself where you can see them and what’s going on around you. If you can put your back against a fence or parked car, it will be very difficult for someone to sneak up behind you.

• If you decide to help this person, do not let them see the contents of your purse or wallet and do not shift all your attention to your purse or wallet.

Let’s face it, there are con men and thieves everywhere who are looking to take advantage of as many people as they can. If you feel as if you are being targeted by a criminal on the street, or if you are in doubt, call the SMPD at (310) 458-8491 and an officer can make contact with this individual, identify him/her, and if really needed, render assistance.

Q: I live in Santa Monica. Over the past year there has been a band that plays in the middle of the night on weekends. For example, they started at 2 a.m. last night (Friday) and went to 4 a.m. I assume it is in one of the residences. This has happened on quite a few weekends. Have others written in about this? Are there any noise laws?

A: There are both local and state laws pertaining to loud noise (Santa Monica Municipal Code and California Penal Code). Both laws are considered misdemeanors and carry fines and possibly a jail sentence in some cases.

The majority of the time, the Santa Monica Municipal Code will be used for enforcing loud music/noise complaints, because there are different codes to address or enforce loud and/or amplified music depending on source of the music, whether it is coming from a public park or beach, bar/nightclub or from a residence. Oftentimes residents “put up” with neighbors who constantly play loud music because they don’t want to be viewed as a nosey neighbor or someone who likes to complain. The SMPD reminds everyone that it is important to call our dispatch center at (310) 458-8491 so an officer can respond, locate the source of the music and identify the party responsible.

Once the responsible party is located, the officer usually issues a verbal warning to the violator. The location and person responsible for the violation are kept electronically as part of the radio call record. Most of the time a visit from the police and a verbal warning solves the problem. In some cases an officer can cite an individual for a violation once the violation is observed. In many of the cases an officer cannot cite or arrest an individual unless there is a person present who wants to file a formal complaint.

Unfortunately, there are times where the police have to respond to a location several times a month to address the same complaint. In these cases, we look at the prior calls for service to see who was identified as the person responsible for the disturbance. The neighborhood resource officer (NRO) usually makes contact with the person responsible (or the property owner) to address the complaints and discuss a solution or enforcement actions if the complaints continue. If further enforcement is needed the NRO partners with the SMPD Vice Unit, Code Compliance (when addressing bars/nightclubs) and the City Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Community events

Would you like to meet your Pico Neighborhood NRO Francisco Franco? Officer Franco will be helping out at the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at Virginia Avenue Park (Cloverfield and Pico Boulevard) this Sunday, May 2 from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Every year locals and tourists come to Virginia Avenue Park for the annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta and Pico Auto Show. Join the celebration with cultural performances including mariachi, salsa, and folklorico, cultural education, activities and games for kids, and delicious food. Last year, hundreds of people attended and marveled at the classic cars on display. Come and cast your vote for the “People’s Choice Award” for best car.

This column was prepared by NRO Artis Williams (Beat 7, Sunset Park Neighborhood). He can be reached at (424) 200-0687 or via e-mail at artis.williams@smgov.net.

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