Crime Old - DO NOT USE - The Coast News Rancho Santa Fe

City, sheriffs respond to crime increase

SOLANA BEACH — In response to requests from residents and City Councilwoman Lesa Heebner, the city manager provided an update at the Jan. 8 meeting on what has been done to address a spike in neighborhood robberies.

“People seem to be a little frustrated thinking that things aren’t happening, whereas things are happening,” Heebner said regarding action by the city and Sheriff’s Department.

“Since last spring, actually, we’ve seen a rise (in crimes),” City Manager David Ott said. “It’s not just Solana Beach, but coastal cities in general, especially north coastal cities.”

Ott said law enforcement has taken several steps to address the problems, which have resulted in a decrease in crime.

“It has dropped, actually, in the last couple of months,” he said.

Those efforts include meeting with various communities and informing residents on how to be safer both at home and in their cars.

Ott said leaving valuable items in your car, especially electronics, is “an invitation to people … to break your window and just take (them) out of your seat.”

Ott said it is also important to lock all doors and windows when leaving the house. He said one robber used a ladder to break into the second story of a home.

Ott said Sheriff’s Department officials have helped residents establish neighborhood watch programs and learn what to do if they see someone who looks suspicious. They will also provide information on how to communicate with law enforcement.

“The sheriffs have worked on special enforcements (and) investigation details,” Ott added. “We have an excellent detective here in Solana Beach.”

He said there have been several arrests but none of the people live in Solana Beach, a statistic that supports Capt. Robert Haley’s comments at an August meeting with residents about a new law aimed at reducing overcrowding in state prisons.

He said Assembly Bill 109 presents a challenge for local law enforcement officers because nonviolent, nonsexual, nonhabitual offenders now serve less time in county jails. He said many of those people venture into wealthier communities to commit property crimes, oftentimes for drug money.

Ott said residents should not hesitate to call the Sheriff’s Department if they have any concerns.

“We would rather check it out and make sure that everything’s OK than not know about it and have it reported after the fact,” Ott said.

For urgent problems, people should call 911. For information on forming a neighborhood watch, call Crime Prevention at (760) 966-3500. The Tip Line is (760) 966-3518.

Ott said a direct connection has not been made between robberies and people who visit homes to sell items such as candy or magazine subscriptions. However, anyone selling door-to-door is required to have a city permit.

“If they can’t produce that they don’t belong there,” Ott said. Should that happen, call the Sheriff’s Department.