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Cops nab suspected ‘knock-knock’ burglars breaking into San Fernando Valley home

Three suspected “knock-knock” burglars who are believed to have targeted San Fernando Valley homes are in custody after Los Angeles police say they caught them trying to get into a Valley Village home.

Diamante Darthard, 21; Justus Jones, 18; and an unidentified juvenile were apprehended by North Hollywood Division LAPD officers, who said the three tried to break into the rear of a home in Valley Village on Tuesday. It is unclear whether the trio is tied to any of the celebrity home burglaries in recent months — many of which occurred in the southern side of the San Fernando Valley.

LAPD Lt. Todd Hankel, who oversees the knock-knock task force formed earlier this year, said smart criminal street gang members would be wise to avoid the Valley because officers are waiting to arrest them with the help of watchful residents.

Tuesday’s arrests came after the juvenile suspect knocked on the door of a family home in the Valley Village area. A resident answered the door, and the juvenile said he knocked on the wrong door and immediately walked away. But investigators said the juvenile then walked to another nearby single-family residence and met with Darthard. The two then approached the front door of another home and knocked.

When no one answered, Darthard and the juvenile were joined by Jones as they walked to the side and then the rear of the home.

As the trio attempted to enter the residence, officers arrested them.

Hankel said knock-knock burglars target affluent single-family homes and the group typically is comprised of criminal street gang members from South Los Angeles.

Officials said the burglars tend to select homes based on the likelihood of the residents’ having money, jewelry or firearms and then knock on the front door to determine whether anyone is home. If no answers, they enter through a rear door, side door or second-floor balcony. In some cases, burglars disable the alarm or knock out the power, and they have been known to remove unbolted safes from houses.

The Valley Village area targeted this week is part of an LAPD Division where there were more than 850 burglaries in 2016. Burglaries in that area are down a little over 6% this year compared with the same period last year.

Diamante and Jones each are being held in lieu of $250,000 bail.