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Patrol chief: crime is down

RANCHO SANTA FE — Crime is down overall within the Covenant of Rancho Santa Fe, Patrol Chief Matt Wellhouser told the Association at its Feb. 3 meeting.
“As you may recall, we have been working to reduce crime in the village area,” he said. “In 2008, we experienced 25 (crimes). That number dropped to 11 in 2009 and last year it was nine.”
He said two of the crimes were robberies. In one case Bank of America was robbed.
“The suspects were arrested right after that by sheriff’s deputies,” he said.
The other robbery took place at a home.
Of the five major crime types, burglary and grand theft showed a decrease.
There were 17 burglaries, which is a decrease of 24 cases from last year. Of the 17 burglaries, five involved vehicles, six were commercial and six were residential. The commercial burglaries were at businesses in the village and construction sites.
Wellhouser said alarm calls accounted for 18 percent of all the calls handled by the patrol. They responded to 620 alarms compared to 632 in 2009.
“Three were actual burglaries, the rest were false in nature,” he said.
For the calendar year 2010, the patrol responded to 3,308 calls for service. This is an increase of 34 calls from 2009, he said.
There was one homicide. In January 2010, the body of Dr. Robert Stonebreaker, a Del Mar veterinarian, was found in Rancho Santa Fe. The case is still under investigation by the sheriff’s department.
On the upswing are traffic collisions.
“Traffic collisions increased by nine with speed and right-of-way violations being the leading factors,” Wellhouser said.
He said that he and his staff continue to work with the CHP on deployment of their resources to reduce these numbers.
“We look at that to see where we need to put enforcement. When we see a problem, we work on it right away,” he said.
There were 107 traffic collisions, which reflects a 9 percent increase from 2009. There were 24 injury accidents and 83 noninjury, which compares to 22 injury and 76 noninjury in 2009, he said.
The patrol assisted the sheriff’s department and CHP with 394 calls and the fire department with 642.
He said approximately 20 percent of the patrol’s activity is field is generated by the officers.
“We are out looking for something to do, checking on suspicious people and cars,” he said. “Most of our crime is opportunistic in nature.”
Because the patrol is beginning its 35th year, Wellhouser said he had fun going back to see what kinds of calls were answered in the early years. The very first call to the patrol was on July 1, 1976, at 9 p.m., which was a kidnapping involving two girls. The culprit was arrested.
Another was a call reporting a pig in the road and another was about two young boys who broke into the pharmacy and could not get out.
When board President Tom Lang congratulated Wellhouser on behalf of the board on doing such a good job over the years, Wellhouser turned the spotlight on his staff.
“My guys are doing a very good job and I am just a hood ornament,” he said. “They are very dedicated and I would not be getting these accolades without them.”
Wellhouser invited residents to keep up to date on the patrol and its activities by visiting its new blog at