Officers say a vigilant community aids crime prevention


Local police are reporting that most of the crimes that occur in Carmel Valley are residential thefts and vehicle break-ins but nearly all of them are preventable.

About 85 percent of all residential and vehicle robberies in the San Diego Police Department’s Northwestern Division are due to doors being left unlocked, windows left open and valuables being left in plain sight, according to Officer Gaylon Sells.

Sells said one man even left $5,000 in cash and his laptop on the front seat of his car while he went into the gym.

Those grab-and-go jobs are the easiest kind of crime for a criminal to commit, said Lt. Anastasia Smith.

“The mindset in this community is ‘we live in a safe community, it’s OK to just leave my purse in the car’,” Smith said. “It’s just begging a crook to break the window.”

While October’s seven vehicle break-ins is a smaller number than Mira Mesa’s 29, the number could be even lower if people take a more active role, Sells said.

“We are focused so much on prevention,” Sells said. “We could cut those burglaries way down.”

The police department, through their senior volunteer patrol, is trying to boost their outreach and education regarding crime prevention. In the last month the volunteers have been going door-to-door as well as to local businesses and have distributed about 3,500 flyers with prevention tips.

While vehicle break-ins remain a “huge problem” in Carmel Valley, according to Sells, the good news is that violent crime is something that the community rarely sees. He said that violent crimes rates in the area are six times lower than other areas of the city.

Involved community

Sells said their division gets a large volume of calls from residents, more than he’s noticed at other divisions he has worked at. He said that Carmel Valley is very aware of what’s going on in their neighborhoods and will often call or e-mail him directly with their concerns.

“If there’s a trend developing, it doesn’t stay quiet for long,” Sells said.

Smith said it is important for the community to be good witnesses, reporting suspicious behavior and getting down information like license plates numbers and descriptions that make their job easier.

Juvenile team

Sells said that juvenile issues like truancy and drug and alcohol use also remain a problem in Carmel Valley, mainly because there are so many teenagers.

“There is a huge population of juveniles up here so even if a small percentage of them are causing trouble, it has a big effect,” Sells said.

Since the station opened last year, they have made big improvements on their juvenile services team to combat those problems.

Previously it was just one officer, Jane Jacobson, looking after the four high schools, middle school and eight elementary schools. Now two additional officers are on the team, Jordan Wells and Jeff Sterling.

New Lt.

The juvenile team members aren’t the only cops new to the block- Smith has only been at Northwestern Division for two months. An officer with 20 years of experience, she has worked in departments tackling sex crimes, child abuse, Internet crimes and narcotics.

So far, she is enjoying her new post even though she is so busy she can hardly squeeze in time for lunch.

“I love it here,” said Smith. “This is a really energetic command. All of the officers are really enthusiastic and really dedicated to working up here.”

To report an issue in your neighborhood, call the Northwestern Division at (858) 484-3154 or (619) 531-2000.

Concerns can also be e-mailed to Officer Gaylon Sells at