Compiled by Kamala Kirk
Arson and grand theft auto suspect arrested
On Feb. 23 at approximately 2:15 p.m., officers from the Santa Monica Police Department responded to the area of 23rd and Dewey regarding a report of a man trying to set a vehicle on fire.
Details of the call indicate the male was attempting to light an item stuffed in the gas tank of the reporting party’s vehicle. Officers arrived on the scene and were directed to the subject, who was later identified as Alex Omar Aguirre, a 28-year-old Hispanic male from Los Angeles.
Officers saw Aguirre leaning into the car window of a separate vehicle, rummaging through the contents of the car. They noticed the vehicle had smoke emitting from the inside compartment and immediately summoned for the Santa Monica Fire Department.
Aguirre was detained by officers who spoke with him to ascertain the details of this incident, while fire personnel extinguished the burning vehicle. The reporting party told officers that he saw Aguirre trying to pick the lock of his vehicle before he confronted him. He also noticed a burning rag had been stuffed into the filler of the gas tank, and he was able to extinguish the fire before calling 911.
The victim watched as the suspect attempted to flee in the vehicle, which he eventually ignited. Aguirre appeared to have trouble starting the car, which he exited before being detained by officers. He was placed under arrest and transported to the SMPD, where officers discovered he was on parole.
Officers also learned that the second vehicle Aguirre set on fire was an unreported stolen car from LA. Aguirre was booked for Attempt Burglary – 664/459 P.C., Arson – 452(d) P.C., Grand Theft Auto 487(D) P.C. and Parole Violation 3056 P.C.
Anyone with information related to this incident is encourage to contact Detective David Chabot from Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the SMPD at 310-458-6679 or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.
Recent thefts target elderly women in Santa Monica
Santa Monica Police, along with other local agencies, are investigating a series of thefts where the suspects are targeting elderly women walking alone.
In each of the reported incidents in Santa Monica, a female suspect calls out to the victim from a parked car asking for directions or assistance in an effort to get the victim to come close enough to touch or grab them.
The suspect then puts a piece of fake jewelry on the victim while stealthily removing their expensive jewelry before fleeing in a getaway vehicle, which is usually driven by a male suspect.
Two similar incidents near the 500-600 block of Ocean Avenue were reported on Feb. 13 and Feb. 17. Descriptions of three suspects have been provided. Two of the suspects are female passengers in a vehicle.
The first suspect is Middle Eastern or white with dark brown hair and between 40 to 60 years old. The second female suspect is described as potentially White with dark hair, she may be wearing a scarf covering her hair and is in her mid-40s. The third suspect is the driver of the vehicle and he is described as a potentially White male with dark hair in his mid-40s.
The Santa Monica Police Department would like to remind residents to never approach a strange vehicle and to continue to report suspicious behavior. If you or someone you know believes they have been a victim of a similar crime, please contact Detective David Haro from the Criminal Investigations Division (CID) of the SMPD at 310-458-8432 or the Watch Commander (24 hours) at 310-458-8427.
Support available to low-income seniors through POD program
Over 150 senior households experiencing economic hardship are receiving financial assistance through the Preserving Our Diversity (POD) pilot program and additional assistance is available.
The POD program provides financial assistance to very low-income, long-term Santa senior renters to help cover basic needs like food, health care and transportation.
The Santa Monica City Council approved the $2 million expansion of the program in Summer 2019 to assist a total of 250 to 400 seniors facing financial hardship. Despite the financial impacts of COVID-19 and reductions to the city budget and staff, the city council continued investments in the POD program recognizing the vulnerability of Santa Monica’s low-income senior community.
The cash-based assistance aims to help households achieve a minimum amount of monthly after-rent income of $700 for a one-person household or $1,225 for a two-person household. To be eligible for the program an individual must be a senior age 65 or older; have lived in a Santa Monica rent-controlled apartment since before Jan. 1, 2000; have an annual household income less than or equal to $39,450 for a one-person household or $45,050 for a two-person household; and not already be living in a subsidized apartment or participating in a rental voucher program.
“We would like to help more senior households meet their most critical and basic needs, and ask for seniors to apply,” said Community Services Director Andy Agle. “If you have a neighbor or family member who qualifies and would benefit, please help them through the application process.”
The application period will remain open for interested seniors to apply. All qualified applications submitted to the city will be placed on a waitlist. Applicants will then be selected by lotteries for enrollment on a rolling basis over the coming months.
If you or someone you know meet the above criteria and are interested in applying, apply online (in English and Spanish) via computer, tablet or smartphone; through a secure website at santamonica.gov/pod; or by calling the Santa Monica Housing Authority at 310-458-8743.