Crime Beat

SDG&E JOINS NATIONAL CAMPAIGN TO RAISE AWARENESS OF UTILITY IMPOSTER SCAMS

Source: SDG&E
 
November 18, 2020 (San Diego) -- As part of Utility Scam Awareness Week (Nov.16-20), SDG&E is joining electric, water and natural gas utilities across the country to educate customers about utility imposters who prey on people’s reliance on essential services to cheat them out of money. To date, in 2020 alone, SDG&E customers have reported over 25,000 scams. That translates into nearly 80 per day.
 
“Scammers target our customers year-round, but we want everyone to be even more vigilant during these unprecedented times, as new waves of scams have emerged amid the COVID-19 pandemic. With more people staying at home or possibly facing financial difficulty, scammers try to take advantage of the situation,” a statement from SDG&E indicates.
 
Common Scams

SUSPECT ARRESTED IN SERIES OF EL CAJON HOT PROWL BURGLARIES AND CAR THEFTS

By Miriam Raftery

November 13, 2020 (El Cajon) -- A man suspected of a series of residential hot prowl burglaries and auto thefts in El Cajon has been arrested. Davon Lee, 20, of El Cajon was taken into custody yesterday by San Diego police while in a vehicle stolen from the site of the most recent burglary.  

HOMICIDE DETECTIVES INVESTIGATING DEATH IN SANTEE

By Rebecca Jefferis Williamson

(Photo by Rebecca Jefferis Williamson)

Nov. 11, 2020 (Santee) Homicide detectives are investigating a death at a home located on Greencastle Street in Santee tonight.

"We found a person deceased of a gunshot," Lt. G. Twyman with the San Diego County Sheriff's communication division told ECM. The initial call came in at 3:55 p.m and they arrived at the scene at 4 p.m. He added that homicide detectives were called to the scene. 

Yellow caution tape is currently blocking off the street near the scene of the investigation.

DEPUTIES SEARCH FOR TRANSIENT SUSPECTED OF STABBING MAN IN LAKESIDE

East County News Service

File photo by Nadin Brezinski

November 10, 2020 (Lakeside) – A man walking with a woman in the riverbed in Lakeside Monday night behind the 76 gas station on Willow Road was stabbed in the back by a stranger, City Times reports.

The victim called 911 to report the stabbing around 9 p.m.

HOW TO GET TEXTS OF SAN DIEGO SHERIFF HELICOPTER MESSAGES

Source: San Diego County Sheriff's Department

Prepared by: Melissa Aquino

November 4, 2020 (San Diego) - A new San Diego County Sheriff's Department service is now available to keep you informed. 

Call or text "Hello" to (858) 866-HELO (4356) to receive helicopter messages straight to your phone. 

Sheriff's ASTREA (helicopter) uses a loudspeaker when searching for a missing person or suspect. Announcements are also made during critical incidents such as a SWAT standoff, disasters, crowd management events or to give people a shelter in place notification.

This is not an automated or a push notification service. You still need to call or text "Hello" to (858) 866-HELO each time you hear Sheriff's ASTREA making announcements over your area.

TWO ARRESTED FOR ARSON ON CHASE BANK BUILDING DURING VIOLENT MAY PROTEST IN LA MESA

Source: Joint news release issued by La Mesa Police Department, San Diego Police Department, and San Diego FBI

Photo by Jake Rose

November 3, 2020 (La Mesa) - – Two men are in custody, charged with arson and looting, in connection with destructive fires intentionally set in La Mesa during a protest that turned violent in May.

U.S. ATTORNEYS ACROSS CALIFORNIA JOIN DISTRICT ATTORNEYS TO HELP VICTIMS OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC

Source: U.S. Attorney's Office, San Diego

November 3, 2020 (San Diego) — The United States Attorneys for the Southern District of California, Eastern District of California, Northern District of California and Central District of California and the District Attorneys of San Diego, Sacramento, Alameda and Ventura counties launched an online outreach campaign Thursday to help victims of domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States Attorneys and District Attorneys are joined by Childhelp, a national nonprofit organization aiding victims of child abuse.

The outreach campaign was created to combat an unintended consequence of COVID-19 public health measures— an alarming rise in domestic violence with victims trapped at home with their abusers under increasing stress. The National Domestic Violence Hotline (www.thehotline.org or 800.799.SAFE [7233]) has reported an increase in contacts to the hotline during COVID-19. Reports show...

COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD RECRUITMENT NOW OPEN

Source: City of La Mesa

Photo: Themis, Blind Justice, Cast Bronze by Design Toscano

Click here to apply

October 28, 2020 (La Mesa) – Applications are now being accepted for the newly created Community Police Oversight Board (“CPOB”). The deadline for submission of applications is 5:30 p.m., Tuesday, December 1, 2020, in the City Clerk’s office at La Mesa City Hall, 8130 Allison Avenue. Applications may be obtained at City Hall or from the City of La Mesa website.

The CPOB will provide recommendations to the Chief of Police, Mayor, City Council, and City Manager on the La Mesa Police Department procedures and policies and on matters of public safety within the City. The CPOB will consist of an 11 member panel (must be residents of the City of La Mesa) as follows:

HEARSE HEIST: MORTUARY DRIVING SERVICE OWNER ARRESTED FOR ROBBING DEAD MAN’S HOME

At least five others were victimized in a series of brazen thefts. Authorities seek more victims
 
By Miriam Raftery
 
October 27, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Sammy Willie Gates, the owner of Mortuary Transportation Services, has been arrested for stealing property from the home of a deceased man, smuggling some stolen goods out in a body bag.  

LA MESA ADOPTS COMMUNITY POLICE OVERSIGHT BOARD

By Miriam Raftery
 
Photo: Councilmember Akilah Weber led efforts to establish the police oversight body
 
October 25, 2020 (La Mesa) – By a 3-2 vote on Oct. 13, the La Mesa City Council approved creation of a Community Police Oversight Board. The board is empowered to retain an independent police auditor and to direct investigation of serious incidents involving police, such as shootings or major misconduct complaints. 

HOMICIDE INVESTIGATION IN EL CAJON

East County News Service

October 24, 2020 (El Cajon) – Homicide detectives with El Cajon Police Department are investigating the death of a man in his 30s.

Officers responded to a call yesterday at 8:42 a.m. reporting a dead body inside a home on the 1100 block of Marline. They found the deceased man and determined the death to be “suspicious," according to Lieutenant Jason Taub.

No suspects have been arrested.  Anyone with information about this incident should call the El Cajon Police Department at 619-579-3300, or anonymously at Crime Stoppers, 1-888-580-8477 or sdcrimestoppers.org.

DEPUTIES RESPONDING TO GUNFIRE IN SPRING VALLEY FIND BOOBY-TRAPPED GAMBLING DEN, BUT NO SHOOTING VICTIM

By Miriam Raftery

October 21, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Sheriff’s deputies responding to a call reporting a shooting Monday night discovered an illegal gambling establishment set up in an outbuilding at 1726 Helix Street in Spring Valley. “It contained approximately fifteen slot machines. Spent shell casings from a firearm were also located in the outbuilding,” says Lieutenant Joel Stranger.

Deputies from the Rancho San Diego station responded around 9:22 p.m. Monday and checked the property, but no shooting victim was found. During the search, one deputy stepped on a board with nails sticking up in an apparent “booby trap,” according to Lt. Stranger.

LA MESA POLICE DEPT. SEEKS HELP TO IDENTIFY LOOTING SUSPECTS AT LA MESA SPRINGS DURING MAY 30 RIOT: REWARD OFFERED

 

By Miriam Raftery

 

October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) – Tips from the public helped identify five juveniles now charged with crimes related to the looting of Pierre’s Jewelers during the May 30 civil unrest. Now the La Mesa Police Department (LMPD) has released several surveillance images from La Mesa Springs Shopping Center at 8011 University.

Police also released additional photos from Pierre’s in hopes that the public can again assist in identifying suspects involved in these crimes.

LA MESA POLICE DEPARTMENT RECEIVES GRANT TO FIGHT ALCOHOL RELATED CRIME

East County News Service
 
October 15, 2020 (La Mesa) -- The La Mesa Police Department has been awarded a $52,349 grant from the California Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) to battle alcohol-related crime. This is important to the City of La Mesa in order to increase protection for youth and to keep our community safe.
 
The grant is one of 50 awarded in California to local law enforcement agencies through ABC’s Alcohol Policing Partnership (APP) Program. The grants strengthen local law enforcement efforts by combining the efforts of local police officers and ABC agents. ABC agents have expertise in alcoholic beverage laws and can help communities reduce alcohol-related problems.
 
“The program improves the quality of life in neighborhoods,” said ABC Director Jacob Appelsmith. “We’ve seen a real difference in the communities where the grant program resources have been invested.”

STUDENTS ROBBED AT GUNPOINT NEAR GROSSMONT HIGH: POLICE SEEK TIPS ON SUSPECTS IN BLUE NISSAN SENTRA

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 14, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa Police seek public help to locate suspects in a blue Nissan Sentra who reportedly robbed three Grossmont High School students in front of the Shell Gas Station on Murray Drive at 12:45 p.m. today.  
 
The students were walking near the station when the Nissan’s driver pulled into the gas station driveway, stopped na got out of the car. He demanded money from the students while a passenger pointed a handgun at the students.
 
After taking the students’ money, the driver got back into the vehicle, which appeared to have multiple passengers. The driver is described as a light-skinned Hispanic male around 17 or 18 years old with brown eyes, a mustache and groomed eyebrows, according to a police bulletin.  The second suspect is described as Hispanic, age 18-19, with wavy black hair with light tips, wearing an orange long-sleeved shirt.

PADRES' TOMMY PHAM STABBED OUTSIDE MIDWAY DISTRICT STRIP CLUB

East County News Service

October 13, 2020 (San Diego) - Padres' outfielder Tommy Pham was stabbed outside of a strip club on Sunday night.

Pham was outside of Pacers Showgirls International on Midway Drive around 10:35 p.m. on Sunday when an argument broke out near his car.  Pham claims he did not know anyone in the altercation and was stabbed when he asked them to get away from his car.

THE RACIAL JUSTICE COALITION DEMANDS JUSTICE OR RESIGNATION

By Briana Gomez

October 9, 2020 (San Diego) -- In a climate of uproar against national police brutality, the Racial Justice Coalition of San Diego County is demanding that police officers in our region are held accountable for ample shootings of unarmed individuals over the course of 25 years.

Background

According to a review from the District Attorney’s Office, between 1993 and 2017 there were 451 police shootings of civilians, 55 percent of which were fatal.

According to this report, the DA’s office took on average 183 days to send a letter of review to law enforcement after these shootings (a letter was sent in only 432 of the cases).

LA MESANS SHARE CONCERNS OVER PROTEST AND RIOT RESPONSE IN VIRTUAL LISTENING SESSION

By Miriam Raftery
 
October 7, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa residents voiced their concerns over the La Mesa Police Department response to the May 30 civil unrest and riot, also offering suggestions for future improvements in an online listening session held last night by Hillard Heintze, the firm hired by the city to conduct an independent investigation. 

LA MESA CREDIT UNION ROBBERY SUSPECT IN CUSTODY, CASH RECOVERED

East County News Service

October 3, 2020 (La Mesa) – A suspect accused of brandishing a knife and demanding cash from a teller during robbery of the Navy Federal Credit Union on Grossmont. Blvd. in La Mesa on September 30 is in custody.

After the robbery around 10:02 a.m., the suspect fled the scene in a vehicle with an undisclosed amount of currency. He was located driving away from the area by responding La Mesa Police Department officers and followed to the 4500 block of Winona Avenue in San Diego, where a traffic stop was initiated.

HIGH SPEED CHASE THROUGH EL CAJON AND SANTEE ENDS AFTER COLLISION

By Miriam Raftery

October 2, 2020 (San Diego’s East County) – A suspect who failed to yield for a traffic stop in El Cajon early yesterday morning led officers from multiple law enforcement agencies on a high-speed pursuit through three cities. It took deployment of a spike strip, a taser and a struggle with Sheriff’s deputies to ultimately arrest 53-year-old Larry Route of San Diego.

The incident began at 1:42 a.m. when Deputy Young from the Sheriff's Lakeside substation saw a vehicle drive through a red light at the intersection of North Magnolia Avenue and East Bradley Avenue in unincorporated El Cajon.The driver of the vehicle failed to yield for a traffic stop and a traffic pursuit ensued into the City of Santee. The suspect vehicle collided into the center median at Halberns Boulevard and Mast Boulevard but continued to drive at a high rate of speed on to State Route 52 into the City of San Diego, according to Sergeant Anthony Portillo.

San Diego Police Air Support (ABLE) responded as deputies coordinated a tire deflation deployment with the California Highway Patrol (CHP).

LA MESA POLICE RELEASE NUMEROUS PHOTOS OF SUSPECTS WHO LOOTED PIERRE’S JEWELERS ON MAY 30-31

25 arrests made so far, including 4 La Mesa residents
 
East County News Service
 
September 29, 2020 (La Mesa) -- As a result of the civil unrest event that occurred in La Mesa on May 30th – May 31st, 2020, over 50 crimes, including arson, vandalism, burglary, and theft, were reported by victims and documented by the La Mesa Police Department. Although the exact amount of damage is still being calculated, it can be reported that these crimes resulted in millions of dollars of losses to victims in the local area.

FIRM INVESTIGATING LA MESA CIVIL UNREST HOSTS COMMUNITY LISTENING SESSION OCT. 6

 

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 (La Mesa) – La Mesa residents are invited to participate in community listening session on Tuesday, October 6 at 7 p.m.  Hillard Heintze, the firm hired to conduct an independent investigation into the civil unrest and rioting that occurred on May 30 wants to hear your feedback and recommendations.

The meeting will be held online via Zoom due to COVID-19 restrictions on gatherings. Click here to register. If you have any questions, email Robert Boehmer at robert.boehmer@hillardheintze.com.

RACIST HATE GRAFFITI DEFACES CHALDEAN AND SYRIAC CATHOLIC CHURCHES IN EL CAJON

A Catholic church nearby was also targeted with graffiti early Saturday

By Miriam Raftery

September 27, 2020 (El Cajon) – Yesterday, St. Peter Chaldean Catholic Diocese in El Cajon posted this message, along with disturbing video:  “This morning our beloved Cathedral was defaced with pentagrams, upside down crosses, white power, swastikas, BLM, etc. It reminds us to pray for my brethren in Iraq that are facing persecution. Pray for the criminals who did this.”

The odd combination of hate symbols fueled speculation over who was responsible.  Some community members theorized that a group might have sought to discredit another group, since it seemed unlikely that a support of Black Lives Matter or Joe Biden would spray paint racist symbols such as swastikas and the words “white power,” nor would a neo-Nazi or white supremacist want to promote BLM or Biden.  The pentagram, a symbol associated with satanic cults, is not affiliated with either either the far right nor leftist groups named.

CAR THIEF SUSPECT ARRESTED IN JULIAN AFTER HIGH-SPEED CHASE AND FOOT PURSUIT

Residents praise “heroic” actions of Deputy Jared Anderson

By Miriam Raftery

September 26, 2020 (Julian) – Ernest Bartocci, 45, was arrested last night after leading law enforcement officers on a high-speed chase followed by a foot pursuit through a residential area of Julian, where “assistance from residents played an essential role in locating Bartocci,” says Sergeant William Uelen with the San Diego Sheriff’s department.

Bartocci is accused of stealing a Honda Pilot in Borrego Springs near Palm Canyon Drive and Christmas Circle around 4:45 p.m.. A be-on-the-lookout alert was sent out to local law enforcement units.

SUSPECTS ARRESTED FOR SERIES OF ARMED ROBBERIES IN EL CAJON ARE TIED TO OTHER CRIMES

By Miriam  Raftery
 
September 25, 2020 (El Cajon) – Three suspects are in custody for allegedly robbing people at gunpoint at bank ATMs and at a self-serve car wash in El Cajon. They are suspected of other robberies across the San Diego region.
 
All three crimes occurred on September 18 between 2 and 2:30 a.m. and were reported by the victims, who called 911.
 
El Cajon Police robbery detectives investigated, working with detectives from the San Diego Sheriff’s Office, San Diego Police Department, National City Police Department, and The Chula Vista Police Department.  
 
Detectives identified the suspect and learned he had not acted alone. Two additional suspects were identified.  Detectives also discovered the suspects had committed at least eight robberies in San Diego County in the last week, says Lt. K MacArthur with El Cajon Police.

PRICE GOUGING A CRIME AFTER VALLEY FIRE

 
By Yvette Urrea Moe, County of San Diego Communications Office
 
September 18, 2020 (Eastern San Diego County) - San Diego County District Attorney Summer Stephan is warning businesses and scammers not to take advantage of consumers by price gouging during a state of an emergency – doing so can end in prosecution.
 
As a result of the devastating Valley fire in the eastern part of San Diego County, Governor Gavin Newsom and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors declared a state of emergency in San Diego County on September 6. During a declared state of emergency, it is illegal for a business to increase its prices for essential goods or services by more than 10 percent, unless they can show their own costs have been increased.
 
“Wildfires leave a devastating effect on many of our neighbors and we want to send a clear message that we will not tolerate any unlawful activity by a greedy businesses, contractors or scammers who would seek to financially exploit victims of wildfires,” Stephan said. “Price gouging and unlicensed contracting during a state of emergency is not only a crime, it also can further victimize someone who may have lost everything in a wildfire.”

HEARING OCT. 26 ON PLACING CHILD MOLESTER IN JACUMBA HOT SPRINGS

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 16, 2020 (Jacumba Hot Springs) – Joseph Bocklett, a 75-year-old sexually violent predator convicted of molesting three children ages 4 to 9, may be placed at 45612 Old Highway 80 in Jacumba Hot Springs. A public hearing on his proposed release into the supervised home is slated for October 26 at the Superior Court in San Diego.
 
He was originally slated for release into Pauma Valley in North County, but that proposal was scrapped after objections from community members, Supervisor Jim Desmond and Native American tribal leaders that the site was too close to many families. (However, the state has since proposed release of another sexually violent predator, Joseph Cooley, whose crimes include rape of a 12 year old girl, at the same address.
 
District Attorney Summer Stephan has written letters objecting to release of Cooley in Pauma Valley, but has thus far not taken action to try and block release of Bocklett into the Jacumba Hot Springs community.
 
Bocklett was last sentenced in 2000 to 17 years in prison. He was diagnosed with pedophilic disorder and found likely to reoffend, so was confined to a state hospital where he underwent treatment and was recently approved for release into a supervised facility.
 
Supervisor Dianne Jacob has long complained that rural East County including the Jacumba area has been used as a “dumping ground” for violent sexual predators. She has objected to this and wants prisoners housed near Donovan State Prison if they are to be released at all.

GUNMAN CARJACKS PICKUP TRUCK IN SPRING VALLEY

East County News Service
 
September 16, 2020 (Spring Valley)—A man unloading his 2015 Toyota pickup truck Sunday, Sept. 13 around 7 a.m. in front of a Spring Valley apartment building was confronted by a man armed with a handgun. 
 
The gunman, who appeared to be in his 20s, pointed the gun at the victim and stole the truck.

INMATE CHARGED IN MARCH MURDER OF SPRING VALLEY MAN

By Miriam Raftery
 
September 5, 2020 (Spring Valley) – Alex Anthony Martinez, 31, of Spring Valley has been charged with the murder of Manual Arrechea Chavira, 45, of Spring Valley. Chavira died on March 14 after suffering a head injury in a fight the evening before, according to Lieutenant Thomas Siever with the San Diego Sheriff’s Department. 

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