A local theme park owner is calling for improved public safety, including additional park rangers, within Long Beach parks after a series of burglaries at his business in East Long Beach.
Patrick Wolovich opened El Dorado Frontier with the goal of expanding what was previously known as the Caboose Corners into a small western-style theme park for families. After all, he always dreamed as a kid of creating his own theme park.
But ever since starting construction on the park four years ago, Wolovich says El Dorado Frontier has been plagued by a number of break-ins resulting in tens of thousands of dollars in items stolen and property damage.
“This is not about money; it has to do with safety,” said Wolovich, who has grown frustrated over the number of incidents his business and employees have endured. “We’re just trying to provide something fun for the community.”
The latest crime at El Dorado Frontier occurred Friday, Aug. 12, when a man and a woman broke into the theme park overnight and took a cash register containing money, according to the Long Beach Police Department.
“We basically just worked that weekend to replace everything they stole,” Wolovich said.
Police say the suspects removed a security camera from the exterior of the property and broke a window to gain entry into the property.
No arrests have been made, and the investigation is ongoing, authorities said.
In the week since the break-in, Wolovich has scrutinized what he says is a lack of patrol in the area, including an Instagram post on the company’s website, which also shows a picture of the man and woman suspected of breaking in.
“There’s a lot of stuff that goes around at the park,” Wolovich said. “It’s scary and dangerous sometimes.”
But to Wolovoch’s disappointment, Long Beach officials have proposed eliminating the “park ranger” classification altogether, opting to instead transfer hundreds of thousands of dollars from the LBPD general fund to the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department for a Park Safety Ambassador Program. The new program, included in next year’s budget, allows for unarmed, non-police patrols who are expected to enforce the city’s park rules, ensure that the park’s amenities are being used properly and maintain the park restrooms.
“The idea is the more that you program an area, the safer and cleaner it will be,” said Maintenance and Development Bureau Manager Hurley Owens.
If passed, the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department would work collaboratively with the LBPD to make sure patrons at the five parks where park rangers were assigned continue to receive timely responses for calls of service, according to the budget.
Wolovich, however, said, “They’re glorified bathroom monitors.”