Posts Tagged ‘Code Enforcement’

Abandoned Graffitied Van Was Stolen

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

The abandoned van in Valle Vista turned out to be stolen

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Not often when you report an abandoned vehicle to the police, do you get to hear the end of the story.

In this case, the white Ford van was stolen. It now sits parked outside Idyllwild Garage, waiting on the insurance company to make its report before returning it to its owners.

However, in my attempt to be a good citizen, I may have implicated myself in the crime. You see, my fingerprints are all over the driver’s side handle.

It all started a couple of weeks ago, when I noticed the white van parked in the pullout near Valle Vista. It’s a popular pullout because it’s close to the bridge and the creek, and oftentimes people go there in the summer to cool off.

Days later, I was going down the hill again and noticed the same van parked there. This time, I was concerned. Mostly because it was after the weekend, and it hadn’t moved.

Was the guy on an extended fishing trip, or did something happen to him?

In my short stint as a newspaper reporter (Idyllwild crime was my beat), I learned to notice inconsistencies. I once called a sheriff’s deputy about an abandoned truck in Valle Vista. (My editor thought it may have been associated with illegal dumping at the time). As it turned out, the truck’s owner was an out-of-work musician who hung himself in a nearby tree. He had even left a note in the truck.

The police blotter only mentioned the abandoned vehicle.

So knowing that, I got the license plate number and the number of the nearby mile marker, and reported the abandoned van to the police. They took down my information, and said they’d send an officer out to investigate.

I laughed with the dispatch operator about the driver being on a long fishing trip. I didn’t mention any hunches about dead bodies.

Three days later, I passed the same van again, but this time it had graffiti tagged all over it. On one side, they used profanity. It was no longer a nuisance vehicle, but an eyesore. I called the police again.

But this time, they directed me to Code Enforcement. I guess any abandoned vehicle that had been damaged, was now their problem. I gave the same story, and the officer said he’d open a file and get right on it.

Same van turned up at Idyllwild Garage

On May 21, I got tired of waiting on the police to tow the vehicle, and stopped to take pictures. It had “Infamous” written on the hood and rear.

Thinking about the abandoned vehicle/suicide in Valle Vista, I tried the door handle. After all, there could be a dead body inside.

It opened.

Inside, the van smelled of cigarette smoke, and the ashtray was overflowing with butts. There were clothes all over the back from a laundry basket.  The graffiti taggers must’ve rummaged through them looking for money or valuables. However, they overlooked a Gucci makeup bag.

I was glad that there was no corpses, or anyone hurt inside.

I tried to take a picture of the inside, for what reason I don’t know, but my flash didn’t go off. My camera said that I needed to replace the batteries.

“Just as well,” I thought to myself. “There’s no body, or anyone who needs my help, so now I’m trespassing.”

That was the end of the story, until today when I saw the van parked outside Idyllwild Garage.

My fingerprints were left on the door handle

I spoke to one of the mechanics, telling my good citizen story.

“Funny that it would end up here in Idyllwild,” I said.

“It was stolen,” he said. “The insurance company is on its way over to investigate.”

The owners were not from Idyllwild, he added.

Then I started to sweat. My fingerprints were left on the door handle. Should I turn myself in, and confess nosiness? Are my fingerprints impeding the sheriff’s investigation?

I decided to lay low and wait until the police come to me. Surely, they have records of me reporting the abandoned vehicle twice in one week. When you report anything to the police, you always have to give your name and phone number.

But I’m worried that I’ll get busted for stealing the van.  I’ve seen too many Film Noir movies to know that anyone’s luck can change on a dime. A good deed can land you in the clinker, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Hemet/Valle Vista Pot Dispensary to Close

Friday, December 23rd, 2011

The pot dispensary in Valle Vista will be pressured to close.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The “medical” marijuana dispensary operating across from the Shell Station in Hemet/Valle Vista is on Riverside County Supervisor Jeff Stone’s hit list.

It’s one of 36 pot dispensaries illegally operating in unincorporated areas of Riverside County, which have been banned since 2006.

According to the Dec. 14th issue of The Californian, this move from the County Supervisors comes one month after a state appellate court upheld the city of Riverside’s ban on medical marijuana dispensaries.

“That gave us the legal comfort to aggressively pursue what we have always thought was an illegal operation,” said Supervisor Stone to The Californian. “This is going to put people on notice. They had better cease and desist.”

According to Corinne Daly, one of Supervisor Stone’s legislative assistants, the property located at 44518 Florida Avenue in Hemet/Valle Vista, is on their current list of closures.

“Our office is working closely with Code Enforcement and our legal and law enforcement team in having those activities come to a halt,” Corinne wrote to us in a recent email.

The exterior of the pot facility looks like a legitimate doctor's office.

“I think most people believe that dispensaries really cater to the recreational user of marijuana,” Supervisor Stone said in the Dec. 14th article.

The county intends to invoke code enforcement powers and lawsuits to pursue dispensaries unless operators voluntarily shut down. The county also plans to seek recovery for all legal costs associated with its efforts.

For weeks, Idyllwild Me has been rallying to close that dispensary down. It has a tremendous amount of activity at all hours of the day and night.

Cars drive up and park and within 30 seconds, they take off again. It happens at 6 a.m. as well as 8 p.m. on Sundays and holidays.  Is all this activity legal? Are all of these people terminally sick with legitimate green cards? We hardly think so.

However, after reporting the activity, the Hemet police said there was little that could be done. (See Idyllwild Me blog post, “Little Recourse for Hemet/Valle Vista Marijuana Dispensary,” dated Nov. 28)

“The only way an officer could investigate that medical marijuana dispensary is if someone said they were able to buy marijuana there without a green card,” the officer said. “We would need actual information.”

The Valle Vista pot dispensary is busiest after dark

However, according to the Dec. 14th article in The Californian, police officers have been lobbying elected officials to find a way to close pot dispensaries down for years.

Now they have Supervisor Stone’s bite and the state’s legal backing, it’s time to “Get Er Done.”

They could start by looking at the dispensary’s books. Bet the hundreds of customers the Valle Vista pot dispensary sees each day only pay quick cash, and there’s no credit card and check receipts. Perhaps the IRS would like to see the books too, and get their fair share.

Corinne Daly said Supervisor Stone’s office would keep us apprised of their progress.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved