Posts Tagged ‘Hemet Sheriffs Department’

Neighbors Help Combat Idyllwild Crime

Sunday, March 25th, 2012

Having a large dog helps keep crime at bay

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Due diligence is what will help Idyllwild in its latest crime spree. In a Town Hall meeting held at the Idyllwild School on Saturday, March 24, about 100 townspeople were there to express their fears and find some answers. Some of my neighbors were there.

It’s not important that I didn’t go to the meeting. What is important is that I know my neighbors. And that I talk to them about what’s going on in the neighborhood when they’re out walking their dogs. Or we’re helping each other shovel our driveways.

That kind of neighborhood diligence will help combat crime. Two years ago, we all banded together to shut down a drug house at the end of our street.

Some enterprising renter decided to open up a drug house and supply the neighborhood with pot and other drugs. New cars started lining the streets, but most would only stay for a few minutes. Odd people would walk by in the middle of the day, not waving or looking you in the eye.

Then the drama started. Cuss words coming out of the mouths of grown women. And fights over money. The cops were there a lot, and finally they made her move out. Guess they got to the landlord (who was out of state). The last time I saw her, she was carrying a puppy in her hand along Hwy. 243, showing it to drivers trying to sell it.

The moral of this story is not how to combat a drug house in your neighborhood, but how you and your neighbors can band together to stop crime. During that time, we would all talk to each other about what we saw, and heard. Some reported her to the police for disturbing the noise ordinance, while others called Code Enforcement for all of the junk in the yard.

I should have been on high alert when I read in the Town Crier that my neighbor had reported break-ins in part-time homes around her. I’m only 10 houses away.

“I don’t have anything to steal,” I’d laugh and say. Except I’d cry if anyone took my MacBook.

Unoccupied homes are open invitations for robbers

Then my neighbor from Los Angeles told me that some thieves broke into a neighbor’s house while she was at home! The woman was disabled, so they just kept robbing her! That neighbor is a credible source, so I believe him. He’s in his 70s and worked in insurance investigations.

The in-home invasion, he said, was near McMahon (where Marion View Drive turns into Double View). My guess is that the thugs are targeting homes close to the highway. Just one turn and they’d be on Hwy. 243 and out of town.

My brother was a loss prevention officer for JC Penneys in Omaha. Too many times, he said, he would get pepper sprayed in the face by robbers. They would pack things into suitcases or bags and put them by the doors. Then they’d rush out to a waiting car and speed away. In pursuit, my brother would get sprayed–all for minimum wage.

But that lesson taught me that robbers want a clean getaway. They want the fastest way out of town. So if you live along Hwy. 243 in Idyllwild, it’s time to be diligent. Lock your doors, and report strange activity to the police.

Mountain Top Liquor was robbed at gunpoint a few weeks back. Richard, the clerk on duty at the time, said the guy knew what he was doing.

“He held the gun straight in my face and didn’t waver,” Richard said. “Either he’d done this before, or he had military training.”

Then the robber took off on foot behind the Fort, likely to a waiting car. Richard said the guy must’ve known someone locally because he knew where to park and get away quickly.

“Lock your doors,” Richard warned me. “There are people out there without ethics, and you have to protect yourself.”

I’ve been careless about locking my front and back doors at the same time. I also forget to lock my car, but secretly I hope that one would get stolen.

Streets like Marion View and McMahon are close to Hwy 243

However, I wasn’t expecting a knock in the night.

It was around 10:30 p.m., and I figured my boyfriend forgot his key. The bedroom is upstairs, so it took me a few minutes to open the door. By then, no one was there, but a station wagon was parked just beyond the driveway. I could see its frame in the moonlight.

I flicked the porch light and waved. But the car sped off. It wasn’t my boyfriend’s friends dropping him off. Was it someone just lost, looking for another house? Or were would-be thieves checking me out?

I noticed that the window was open a crack (for fresh air), but it could’ve easily been pried open. My car, covered in snow, was parked across the street because I have a slanted driveway and its easier to get out in the snow. The porch lights were on, but maybe they were wondering if anyone was at home?

Keep in mind when they knocked, no dog barked, because I don’t have one. But my boyfriend has a viscious cat that I wouldn’t think twice about letting out if anyone forces their way in. And they’re lucky I don’t have a gun.

Many women I've met at the Legion in Idyllwild pack guns

The home invaders are lucky that that invalid woman didn’t have a gun. Many people up here have guns, and I’m not just talking about Tracy Filippi, the bug guy.

Women have guns in their homes and in their cars. I’ve talked to a lot of them at the American Legion. These women are senior citizens, but many of them have also served in the military and know how to use a gun. They wouldn’t think twice about shooting anyone who forces their way into their homes.

My guess is the crime spree for homes and businesses along Hwy. 243 in Idyllwild will continue until someone gets shot. And then it won’t be like taking candy from a baby anymore.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

Valle Vista Marijuana Dispensory?

Sunday, November 20th, 2011

 

The address to this popular building in Valle Vista is clearly marked on the front.

 

 

 

 

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The brown building with white trim looked just like any other doctor’s or dentist’s office in Hemet/Valle Vista. Only that this one, across from the Shell Station on the corner of Florida and Lincoln Avenues, had a lot of activity.

In fact, in the five minutes it took to fill up my car, four cars had come and gone. And one heavy set guy, who gassed up at the Shell Station, had walked over there and returned within those few minutes.

What was going on here? Was this a crack house?

I’ve lived down the street from drug houses in Chicago and Idyllwild. The drug dealers in Chicago had it down to an art. Cars would stop in the street and honk, and they would run out in their neon green shirts to serve them. At any drug house, there’s always a lot of activity and no one sticks around for long for fear of getting caught. I also used to cover crime for the Idyllwild Town Crier, and had once interviewed a potential drug dealer in Garner Valley. So I’m naturally suspicious.

Several months back, this brown building used to be a tire shop. But it wasn’t open for long. Now, there is only a blank white sign, but the address, 44518, is clearly marked on the front of the building in 12-inch letters. A crack house wouldn’t be so obvious.

There's a lot of suspicious activity at this location

“That’s where you can buy marijuana,” said a teenage boy from Idyllwild who was riding in my car as we passed the place one afternoon.

I didn’t think much about it then, but wondered how he could be so casual about those things with an adult. But each time that I filled up my car at the Shell Station, it nagged at me. There was way too  much activity going on over there for my comfort level.

This time, I decided to take pictures as proof. Except on my camera, there’s no time marker. In one of my pictures, a guy in a blue hoodie, looked up and saw me. I pretended to be messing around with my camera, just taking odd shots to get it to work again. Always take a picture of your foot. (That’s an old street photographer’s trick).

On the way up the hill, I called 911. After all, that hoodie guy could be a drug dealer who had already memorized my plates and told his friends. I could be dead by morning and no one would know why!

The CHP operator transferred me to the Hemet Sherrifs’ Department, saying that I was “reporting suspicious activity.”

I told the dispatch operator what I knew, including the remark from the Idyllwild teen whose mother lives in Hemet. They took my phone number and said that they would send someone out to investigate.

‘Better take your guns,’ I prayed silently. ‘There’s going to be a shootout. No one gives up their drugs that easily.’

The building at 44518 Florida, is a legal marijuana dispensary

Within a few minutes, a Hemet police officer called me back.

“That’s a marijuana dispensary,” she said. “It’s legal.”

She said it had been operating for about a year now, and fellow officers have checked them all out for validity.

“That’s where people can go when a doctor prescribes them marijuana,” she said.

I thanked her and hung up. It must be like the medical marijuana places in Venice Beach that attract so much attention with tourists. That explains why this nondescript building in Valle Vista, with a huge address, has so much activity.

I ran a quick check for “marijuana dispensaries” on Google, but the 44518 Florida address didn’t show up. However, another one in Hemet and more in Palm Springs, Beaumont, Perris, Murrieta and Riverside, appeared.

Yet, I remain on guard. Could a medical marijuana place go bad?

“Yes, they closed the one in Menifee,” said Peggy, who lives in Menifee. “They were dispensing medical marijuana, but also selling it illegally on the side. Some citizen’s group shut them down.”

Could that be what’s happening in Valle Vista? Are they legally and illegally selling marijuana at the same time?

If everything was above board, then why do their customers only stay for two seconds? That’s the behavior of someone who doesn’t want to get caught, not a cancer patient who wants to feel a little better.

This marijuana dispensary is too close to my favorite Shell Station for comfort. If there’s a police shootout and one of the bullets hits a gas truck or tank, then everything could blow sky high!  Yep, I’ve seen it on TV! With my luck, I would be gassing up on pump number 7.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.