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Residents of Cuddy Valley and Lockwood Valley listen to how to prevent crime by being aware of what is happening around them and reporting suspicious activity.
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Miles Jay, Barbara Bouman Jay and Steve Jay of Muse Ranch listen with Cuddy Valley neighbors to tips about how to be a good witness.
Part Two: Crime Prevention Tips and How to Be a Good Witness
By Patric Hedund
“Any community will have exactly the amount of crime that it is willing to tolerate, and no more,” Sergeant Bryan Armendariz said five years ago to emphasize the power of community members to stop crime in their neighborhoods. A series of burglaries were plaguing Frazier Park and Gorman. Community members stepped forward with information. Arrests were made and people went to jail.
In February a series of second degree burglaries broke out in Cuddy Valley, in which thieves entered outbuildings, stealing tools.
At a community meeting on March 3 at Cuddy Hall, Tina Jaskiewicz of Foxtail Ranch spoke for many: “We need to be aware and do what we have to do to protect this place we all call paradise… We need to let them know we do not tolerate that behavior here!”
This week, reporting that there have been no further incidents in the past 10 days, Kern County Sheriff’s Sgt. Mark Brown said, “I think it is important for neighbors to call us when they feel they are viewing suspicious activity; if we get out there and it is not criminal, that is okay—an unofficial Neighborhood Watch will make a difference. Just having that meeting is already sending the signal that burglars should go someplace else, where the pickings are easier.”
Brown asks that watchful neighbors call 911 if there is an emergency, but he also gave another number for residents to use for non-emergency calls: 661-861-3110.
The neighbors had asked that the meeting be for those they already knew only, rather than making it open to the broader public. They wanted to first speak candidly together with each other and with law enforcement, hoping that those responsible for the crimes would not be among them. Everyone who attended signed in with name, address, telephone numbers and emails. They wanted media to participate and to send the message—after the gathering— that a new vigilance is now in place. [On Tuesday, March 20 at 7 p.m. the MCMAC will host Sgt. Brown and a Los Angeles County Deputy to answer questions and share information with the public..
Communities such as Pine Mountain are urged to consider having a similar gathering.
Ventura County Senior Deputy Scott Ramirez from the Lockwood Valley substation had a crime prevention tips sheet for rural areas, with suggestions for being a good witness. Here are some of the pointers:
Crime in Progress
Call the Sheriff’s Office immediately at “911.”
- Be a good witness.
- Note suspect descriptions such as age, height, weight, facial hair, clothing and shoe type.
- If a vehicle is involved, obtain a license plate number and note vehicle color, body damage, bumper stickers, camper shell, after-market tires and wheels, and other identifying marks.
- Provide the dispatcher with information about the time and last known direction of travel.
- Maintain all fences and keep gates locked.
- Secure and lock all windows and doors.
- Install motion detector lights and a security alarm system.
- Secure all equipment, including vehicles, and store in a visible, well lit area.
- Be aware of and report suspicious persons and vehicles to local law enforcement.
- Frequently patrol your property.
If you have people coming in to work for you (such as plumber, exterminator, alarm company, workmen) limit access to buildings, equipment, chemicals and other valuables that they do not need to see.
- Know your neighbors and encourage them to report suspicious activities.
- Mark all valuable property with your Owner Applied Number or other identifying marks (such as California Driver License number).
[Ramirez said it is more possible that intercepted property will be returned to you if you’ve marked it with your drivers license number—Editor]
- Order only what you need and don’t stockpile materials on your farm or property.
- Pick up your own orders at the supplier and avoid deliveries directly to the farm. If a delivery needs to be made, schedule to meet the delivery driver at a location away from the farm and use the product immediately upon delivery to avoid overnight storage.
- Use hardened locks to secure storage sheds and containers. Park heavy equipment in front of storage sheds or containers to barricade the doors.
Future Prevention Information and Tips
The Ventura County Sheriff’s Office along with the Agricultural Crimes Unit circulates additional information regarding current crime trends in Ventura County, as well as important information to help protect your property and make it less appealing to criminals. You can subscribe to receive the monthly email at Crime.Watch@ventura.org.
Calling ‘911’ in the Lockwood Valley area may send your call to Ventura or Bakersfield dispatch centers. Two numbers to use in that area:
In an Emergency 661-245-3511
Ramirez was asked about the wisdom of attempting to follow a vehicle you believe has been involved in a crime.
“Most people are not trained to follow people. In the heat of the moment you can lose sight of the bigger picture and get into a dangerous confrontation. Your adrenaline is at full throttle and you are talking on the cell phone and you don’t see the pedestrian or bicycle rider at the edge of the road…. You can become criminally liable for damages. Your life or someone else’s life is far more valuable than the property.
“There is a totality of circumstances that we have to weigh and the general public does not have that training. We deal with it on a daily basis. Be observant. Be a good witness. Give us good information we can work with,” Ramirez said.
FOR THE RECORD:
The Frazier Park substation of the Kern County Sheriff’s Office is staffed with a sergeant, a senior deputy and six additional deputies. Last week we wrote that there were five additional deputies.
Second Degree Burglary is entering any building other than a residence to commit a theft or felony. Entering a residence to do so is a first degree burglary.
Steve Jay was misidentified in one of the photos last week. He appears again, above.
This is part of the March 16, 2012 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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