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Police urge playground vigilance

Broken glass found under slides at park might have been placed there intentionally.

September 25, 2011|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • Glass was found buried underneath the slides at Johnny Carson Park in Burbank. Police say it could have been intentionally buried underground to cause harm. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
Glass was found buried underneath the slides at Johnny…

Burbank police are urging families to be vigilant when visiting city parks after broken glass was found buried beneath playground slides at Johnny Carson Park on two separate occasions this month.

Officers said they do not have any hard evidence indicating that the glass was placed at the site purposely, but that the investigation remains open.

“We can’t say for certain that it was intentional, but the gut feeling is it probably was,” said Burbank Police Sgt. Robert Quesada.

The first incident happened on Sept. 2 when a mother visiting the park with her child spotted something shiny in the sand and realized that it was broken glass, Quesada said. She contacted the police, and Park, Recreation and Community Services Department officials were deployed to clean it up, he said.

On Sept. 16, another parent noticed glass in the sand and flagged down a city employee. On both occasions, the glass was found under two different slides and was buried in the sand, police said.

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“It is just very suspicious that we find glass in the same park in the same playground in the sand,” Quesada said.

Jan Bartolo, deputy parks and recreation director, said the glass resembled smashed light bulbs. The shards were cleaned up using a special grabbers and rakes, she added.

Parents playing with their children Friday at Abraham Lincoln Park next to the Buena Vista Branch Library said the incidents were extremely alarming.

“I am very surprised about the glass in the sand, I will have to be more careful,” said Gabriela Bitton.

Jessica Davis, a mother of two, said that local parents are very conscientious about looking out not only for their own children, but other children on the playground.

“We have gone to a lot of different parks in a lot of different cities and Burbank’s seem to be the cleanest,” Davis said.

Parents are being encouraged to walk through playgrounds before allowing their children to enter. Burbank parks are normally very safe, officials said, but added that incidents in which criminals place objects in parks to intentionally inflict harm are not unheard of.

“Certainly, if parents come across any inappropriate objects in a children’s sand area, they can absolutely call us at the park and recreation department,” Bartolo said. “That is something we don’t take lightly.”

Meanwhile, the Police Department is deploying additional patrols around the parks as a precaution, Quesada said.

“When we take out kids to the park, we are always vigilant for child molesters … but we tend to forget little things like this,” he said.

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