Sheriff’s Ramona advisory group gets updates on crimes, touts need for teen activities
By Karen Brainard
Sheriff’s Lt. James Bovet at the Ramona substation gave an update on drug arrests, graffiti, the recent rash of credit card fraud, and other problems in the community before seeking suggestions and concerns from those attending his Citizens Advisory Group meeting on May 9.
Items discussed included forming a graffiti eradication team of volunteers, promoting the ARRIBA Teen Center,
and creating more activities for teenagers.
About 20 people attended the meeting, including three teenagers, and three of the five members appointed to serve on group: Leslie Brennan, a registered recovery worker; resident Salvador Lucatero; and Celeste Young, program manager for North Inland Community Prevention Program for Mental Health Systems. Also on the committee are Kim Lasley, a Ramona Unified School District trustee and chair of the ARRIBA Teen Center, and resident Heather LePage.
Credit and debit card fraud
Bovet said he has received over 40 cases of recent credit and debit card fraud in Ramona in which someone has stolen card information. Residents have reported purchases attempted with their card numbers in states throughout the U.S. and in such foreign cities as Paris, France, and Beijing, China.
According to Bovet, stealing card information usually occurs through someone installing a skimmer on a gas pump or through the software connected to the credit card machines. In the Ramona cases, Bovet said he believes someone hacked into the software. The sheriff’s financial crimes unit is working on it, Bovet said, adding that the Federal Bureau of Investigations may assist.
So far it appears no one has lost money, he said. Bovet recommends that residents keep checking their accounts and call their bank if they see an unusual transaction, and then contact the sheriff’s department. He said it helps if victims print out their statements for the past 30 to 60 days.
“Here’s a problem,” Bovet said, when asked about juvenile offenders. “The problem is heroin is just an awful drug, folks, and that’s what’s eating up our community now.”
Bovet provided statistics on the Ramona station’s activities in drug enforcement since Dec. 1, 2012:
•Served 20 search warrants, 5 arrest warrants, and 26 parolee or probation searches
•Seized 11 guns,
•Recovered close to $80,000 in stolen property, six stolen vehicles, and $47,000 in cash
•Seized 29 grams of methamphetamine, 1.7 pounds of heroin, 149 marijuana plants, about 79 pounds of processed marijuana, and over 300 prescription pills
Gang enforcement and graffiti
Bovet said there is a local gang called Ramona Town Locos and it is a documented street gang in the state.
He told the Sentinel that two people believed to be members of the gang were arrested at 728 F St. on May 2. Tomas Martinez, 44, and Angelina Ruiz, 35, were charged with possession of a controlled narcotic, possession of narcotics for sale, and possession of stolen property, he reported.
At the advisory group meeting Bovet talked about graffiti problems in town and how the sheriff’s department uses a graffiti tracker and creates a database to find the people responsible.
“It’s pretty powerful,” he said.
The lieutenant suggested community volunteers form a graffiti eradication team to clean up tagged areas and work with businesses that may support the effort with donations.
Anyone who sees tagging or is interested in serving on such a team should contact Crime Prevention Specialist Barbara Wallace at 760-738-2425 or Barbara.Wallace.sdsheriffs.org.
When Bovet asked those at the meeting what topics they would like to discuss, Brennan and Young brought up the need for more activities for teenagers in hopes of reducing drug and alcohol use among that age group.
Both of them had attended a May 8 meeting with community health officials about substance abuse prevention.
Young said they would like to draw more youth to the ARRIBA Teen Center but added that they need more volunteers to supervise it.
“We want a gang of good kids,” she said.
Transportation to the ARRIBA center at 1710 Montecito Road is a problem for some, said Young.
The teen center and activities for teens are slated for the agenda of the next Citizens Advisory Group meeting on Thursday, Aug. 22, at 6:30 p.m. in Ramona Library, 1275 Main St.
- Sheriff’s Ramona Citizens Advisory Group to meet May 9
- Residents focus on drug-related crimes at sheriff’s meeting
- Sheriff’s citizens’ advisory group welcomes community suggestions
- Sheriff’s advisory group starts with youth, pedestrian safety
- Sheriff’s department is forming advisory panel in Ramona
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