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July 15th, 2008
06:01 PM ET

Erica’s News Note: A head scratcher

Erica Hill
AC360° Correspondent

Hello, Bloggers! I am back from the beach and ready to dive back into the blog. Here’s a quick look at what’s got me clicking this Tuesday:

The young ID thieves who admit they took their friends and neighbors for more than $116,000 are going to jail, but I’m not sure one half of this duo gets it yet. According to prosecutors, Jocelyn Kirsch, 22, continued to engage in identity theft while waiting for her day in court. Nice move.

When this story first broke, I remember a lot of the outrage focused on the fact that these two appeared to come from very comfortable backgrounds; they didn’t seem like they were struggling. Of course, whirlwind trips around the globe, fancy salon visits and snazzy duds can add up… they can also lead to your undoing. It was the hair that helped police catch these two. Specifically, a bounced check for hair extensions – a check for $2,250. Must be some hair extensions.

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No new fast food restaurants in LA. OK, make that parts of LA. Why? Because we as a nation – and this neighborhood in particular – are unhealthy and overweight. One local California lawmaker says stopping any new fast-food joints from opening is a first step. She’s been pushing the issue since last year, and while tit may be a start, it’s not the ultimate solution.

Many of us probably take our grocery stores for granted; I know I do. I am a fresh produce addict – I need my “5 a day”. Lucky for me, they’re pretty easy to come by in New York. There are markets and fruit vendors everywhere. Not so for much of the country, and it’s not because fast-food restaurants are pushing them out. In fact, most fast food chains now offer healthier options and more vegetables, but you can’t force people to order them.

The real issue in these South Central LA communities – and many areas of the US - is the lack of available natural foods. The local drive-thru looks pretty good when your only other option is overly processed, super salty, high fat packaged foods from the local gas station. Want vegetables? Good luck, especially if you don’t have a car.

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One business seeing an uptick in a down market: the dreaded Repo Man. If you cant pay your mortgage, chances are the yacht will need to go. You may not have a lot of sympathy for the folks losing their second home, but don’t write them off just yet.

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Pets are also being hit hard by the economy and the stories are heartbreaking. Dog and cats abandoned in foreclosed homes, pet surrenders on the rise are families can no longer afford to feed their furry friends, let alone pay for medical care.

Steve Turnham, one of our AC360° producers, blogged about this earlier, but in case you missed his post, I’m also putting out a plea to you, my dear bloggers, for your stories. Do you know of a family who had to give up a pet? Do you work at a shelter or volunteer with a rescue group that has seen adoptions drop, or had to turn people away hoping to surrender their pet because they’re already too full? Let us know.


Filed under: Erica Hill • Erica's News Note
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. JC- Los Angeles

    Erica, welcome back, I hope you enjoyed a relaxing holiday; the story about the spoiled rotten identity theives is classic; there may be a silver lining; perhaps the boyfriend can steal the identity of George W. Bush; chances are, he would do a better job.

    July 16, 2008 at 12:11 am |
  2. Lorie Ann, Buellton, California

    Hi Erica,
    I'm with you on the fresh fruits and veggies. I have my homegrown tomatoes, pears, apples and apricots.
    I hope we as a nation, will not overstep the rights of private business to serve whatever food they want. We can't police every choice a human being will choose. Just my thoughts. Take care

    Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif.

    July 15, 2008 at 9:49 pm |
  3. Heidi,lou.ky

    well comeback Erica , i missed your smile honey 🙂

    July 15, 2008 at 9:47 pm |
  4. Jim-

    Welcome Back Erica,
    The Young I'd thieves- Make them pay back double what they stole.
    As for fast food & being over weight- I lived on Fast food from 1980-
    1998 – my average was 2 wendy's tripple bacon cheeseburgers mayonase only, Biggie fries & Biggie pepsi & could not get over 160 pounds , I now eat good home cooked food ( Steak, potato salad, garlic bread,Lasagna,Chicken ribs , ect & I only now eat one meal a day & thats dinner & in the last year am finally up to 225 which for my hieght of 6'-2" Doc says I'm about 20 pounds over weight You want to know the secret to staying slim EXERCISE between 1980-1998 I walked 70 miles a week that was it simply walking.

    July 15, 2008 at 9:15 pm |
  5. Christine

    Don't do the beach much – have blue eyes and very white skin me and sun not so friendly.

    Way too many pets being left or given to shelters. Maybe a drive should be set up for people who need pet supplies. My Basset Hound died almost a year ago, he had a fast moving cancer. Very expensive medical bills, woluld do it again, but many people could not handle that expense. Vet bills are very high and not very easy to get insurance for pets.

    The ID theft "people" I really don't think anything will change that woman. Prison won't.

    I like my vegetables, but don't take my junk food away. I really don't like all this government getting involved in what people eat. To me that is just getting to be a bit scary.

    July 15, 2008 at 8:52 pm |
  6. Annie Kate

    Hi Erica

    We missed you but I'm glad you had a great vacation. I don't have any pet surrender stories but I know I would hate to give up my orange tabby, Oscar Madison (yes named for the character in the Odd Couple and no, there is no Felix). He's my buddy through thick and thin and a delightful conversationalist – very good at listening and not interrupting except at meal time.

    On the identity theft you have to wonder about someone who has been busted for a crime but continues to do the crime while out on bail awaiting trial. I don't guess she is worried about making a good impression on the court.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    July 15, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
  7. Genevieve M, TX

    Welcome back Erica! We missed you!!

    You went to the beach? Well, I hope you wore sunscreen, you know the "boiled lobster" look is not very chic!

    My local humane society has had a huge increase in dogs being surrendered. The primary reason being "owner can no longer afford to care for the pet". Last week I adopted one of these dogs, now I have one dog and two cats! I wish I could adopt them all, but I don't think that would sit too well with the neighbors!

    July 15, 2008 at 8:49 pm |
  8. Caren, Los Angeles

    Aw Erica, I wish I wasn't able to contribute to the pet story, but unfortunately, I had to give up my pet bunny in Feb because I could no longer afford him. Yes, a bunny. His name was Clooney. Yes, after George. I got a bunny because I thought they'd be lower maintenance than a dog or cat. Turns out, not so much the case. Even one can require lots of food pellets, hay, play toys, teething toys, exercise pen, etc. And those are only the costs if it's a GOOD bunny. Mine was bad and kept eating my electircal wiring any time I would let him out. They also love to chew walls, and apparently mail, as your Shot of the Day showed last week. That's just what bunnies do though, but I could no longer afford to take care of him, so after two years of owning and loving him, and after about $300 worth of wall/wire repair, I gave him to a family who already had a few other bunnies that he could play with.

    The sad thing is, not many people can own bunnies, so the numbers of bunny shelters is astounding. I talked to about 4 shelters in the LA area, and one said they get a couple hundred bunnies each month. Most of them they find on the side of the road or in parks, because people just dump them off. It's too heartbreaking to think of. That's why I searched for a long time to find my family! So, note to self: don't buy a bunny unless you're planning on owning at least 2, and you have a big backyard for them!!

    July 15, 2008 at 8:07 pm |
  9. Lilibeth

    Hi Erica, long time no hear! I’m so glad you’re back! 360 just isn’t the same without you! (No offense to Anderson.)

    I have no sympathy for those ID thieves. I mean, stealing money for hair extensions and expensive trips? That’s just ridiculous!

    If we want all of America to be healthy, then everyone should have access to healthy foods. I’m lucky I live in close proximity to markets with lots of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s nice when you have two organic supermarkets across the street from each other, competing for your attention! Sweet!

    Fortunately, I don’t know of anyone personally who has had to give up their pet because they can’t take care of it anymore. Bad enough that the economy is hurting people, but when it starts hurting animals, I get really mad.

    See you tonight.

    Lilibeth
    Edmonds, Washington

    July 15, 2008 at 7:50 pm |
  10. Rick

    With the meltdown of the credit markets and the effects on homeowners, many pets will become displaced over the next year. People are faced with chilling times in their lives, watching their treasure erode into month to month apartment living, which don't like pets. I don't think that there is a good solution for most of the pets but maybe through interaction like this a few solutions can be presented. 1) Short term pet rentals. 2)Homes sold with a leased back home for the pet (short term). 3) Informal board and care with individuals for a reasonable fee...

    July 15, 2008 at 7:49 pm |
  11. Jim- Kearny, NJ

    Welcome back Erica!

    You know, there are a lot of intelligent criminals out there, but very few smart ones. I imagine it takes some degree of intelligence to steal identities although i have no idea what goes into the process.
    It doesn't take a genius, however, to know that you can't make mistakes like bouncing checks when you're being a thief. Oh well, I hope they enjoy their new living arrangements.

    Regarding the heartbreaking pet story, I'd love to be able to take a dog or cat but my building doesn't allow pets. I had to find homes for mine when I was forced to move. Fortunately, both of my cats got great homes with people I knew and I'm eternally grateful that I didn't have to bring them to the shelter where I got them. They were both great animals and it would have been a shame if they had to be put down.
    I understand the finacial reality of pet care, but I have a serious problem with people just leaving them behind. They can't feed themselves, ya know?

    See you tonight!

    Jim

    July 15, 2008 at 6:37 pm |
  12. Jim- Kearny, NJ

    Welcome back Erica!
    Re-read the first paragraph of the 2nd story (fast food)and fix the typo. Trust me on this one. You can email me back and thank me : )

    July 15, 2008 at 6:18 pm |
  13. Megan Dresslar

    Hello Erica,
    Welcome back home! I agree with you, Jocelyn Kirsch who stole the neighbor's money, I hope that she will learn her lesson, never happen again. I think that she will stay jail for while. I felt sorry for the victims are so sad! That is not good idea to steal ids to false names, that is so outrage! I never take my credit card or ids in the mailbox at all! Right now, I will take shred all my IDs for now. I am glad you had fun at beach your family........ I went to beach few times, it is so awesome on the beach! I will see you later!
    Megan D.
    Shoreline, Wa

    July 15, 2008 at 6:17 pm |