By Karen Billing
The burglary series that affected Carmel Valley and Del Mar Heights area homes late last year has continued into the new year, according to Carmel Valley Northwestern Division’s Sergeant Ernesto Servin.
“The burglary series has become a much bigger problem than we initially anticipated back in October,” said Servin at the Jan. 26 Carmel Valley Community Planning Board meeting.
The series has now stretched to include 38 crimes all over the county from Carmel Valley to La Mesa, linked by similar methods used to break into and steal from the home.
Sometimes homeowners don’t even discover the crime right away because of the methodical nature of the suspects, taking jewelry and valuables that are left in the open and disturbing little else in the home, Servin said.
It appears that the suspects are casing the neighborhood to see when people are coming and going. Typically in the evening hours, they try to make contact at the front door and if no one is home, they go to a back window or open back door.
Some arrests have been made and they have brought in other resources to deal with the issue.
“It’s not going to be easy,” Servin said. “It’s something that’s going to take a lot of time, resources and energy because we don’t just want to take an apple out of the tree, we want to cut the whole tree down.”
Because the criminals are thought to be casing neighborhoods, Servin stressed the importance of residents keeping an eye out for suspicious people or activity.
“We highly encourage people to get a good description, be a good witness and call the police,” Servin said.
The Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) has been out in the community handing out flyers and reminding people to keep windows and doors closed and locked. It seems like something people wouldn’t need to be reminded of but Servin said in one case a person had left their back sliding door and windows open for an entire weekend.
There have been five cases where the homeowners had an alarm but it was not turned on.
Servin also spoke about other crimes in the area.
A suspect is being looked at in the vandalism case in which the tires of 17 cars were slashed on Jan. 4 on Pearlman Way off Ashley Falls Drive. There was also a similar vandalism case at the Sorrento Valley Coaster Station, where the tires of 10 cars were slashed.
“From the video, we happened to see a man in his 50s, for no reason calmly cutting the tires,” Servin said. “We were really surprised because it’s not what we expected to see.”
The video is grainy but they are working to identify the suspect.
The police department has had success in arresting suspects who had targeted Radio Shack and Ralph’s in the Del Mar Highlands shopping center. In the Ralph’s case, a high school-age suspect had been stealing large amounts of cough syrup.
The police were also able to arrest a burglar who had stolen from vehicles parked in the parking garage of the Pell Place condos on Townsgate Drive. They were able to recover many of the stolen items.
“We’re finding a lot of stolen property shows up on Craigslist,” Servin said, noting that it’s a good idea when something is taken to look for it that same day on the website. “It’s helpful to us when the homeowners or victims help with the investigation.”
The Northwestern Division can be reached at (858) 523-7000.