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First break in commercial burglary cases

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A silver late-model Dodge Magnum (top) and Toyota Camry with chrome rims were captured by surveillance cameras. Courtesy of Riverside County Sheriff’s Department

At a Friday, Jan. 11, meeting of Idyllwild business owners, called to discuss recent commercial burglaries, Hemet Station Special Investigations Supervisor Sgt. Wallace Clear spoke about a break in the case. Beginning in late October 2012, six commercial burglaries have occurred in Idyllwild and one at the Lake Hemet Market at Lake Hemet.

According to Clear, station deputies patrolling Idyllwild in the hours during which previous burglaries had occurred, spotted two vehicles (see accompanying photographs on page 2). Deputies observed activity around 4 a.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, that indicated criminal intent.

“We have no doubt they were in the process of committing a burglary,” Clear said. The target was the twice-burgled Village Hardware.

Deputies gave chase as the vehicles sped out of town, one in the direction of Pine Cove and the other toward Mountain Center. Ice on the highway created a dangerous chase and the vehicles escaped.

Clear noted that additional deputies were dispatched to monitor all Hill exits (Highways 243 and 74). He stated the vehicles were not seen leaving the Hill, according to subsequent deputy reports.

Station Lt. Dean Agnoletto said he believes the vehicles are still on the Hill and that the criminals are local. He urged locals to report sightings of these vehicles.

Clear told the merchant group that an operation has been in place for a month to identify and apprehend these criminals. But he noted that unlike recent residential burglaries, where many townspeople had theories about who the criminals were, no one in town seems to have any idea who these burglars are. He also said the same vehicles had been involved in the previous commercial burglaries.

The vehicles are described as a late-model Dodge Magnum station wagon, silver in color, with no luggage rack. A similar vehicle in Pine Cove has such a rack and has already been cleared by the department. The other vehicle is a late-model Toyota Camry, also silver in color, with after-market chrome rims.

Clear said the plates of both vehicles were covered by sticker (car dealer) signage, so deputies were unable to make positive plate identification.

The Sheriff’s Department urges residents to be cautious. Take pictures, obtain plate information, but do not confront vehicle drivers.

Anyone with information regarding any of these burglaries are asked to contact Investigator Robertson at (951) 791-3400 or Sheriff’s Dispatch at (951) 776-1099.

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Category: Idyllwild News

Avatar of Marshall Smith

About the Author: Marshall Smith has been a general assignment reporter for Idyllwild Town Crier since 2005. His favorite quote is: "Some men see things as they are and say why. I dream things that never were and say why not." Email: marshall@towncrier.com

Comments (3)

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  1. KeepEmHonest says:

    Too icey for the sheriff's pursuit but the criminals seem to have been slicker than the ice.

  2. MistyMeanor says:

    This whole story seems shady.

  3. Get'Em Columbo says:

    well to be fair here… the burglars are driving wrecklessly because they are running for their life.

    The cop should not endanger his life or the life of other drivers on the road just to replay a scene for The Dukes of Hazard.

    I am sort of glad the cop did the right thing by keeping his/her cool, and didn't get all "Mel Gibson" crazy eyed. Give the cop some credit for doing the right thing.

    If he had gotten in a wreck, or killed someone driving uphill, people would be upset at the cost of life and material dollar cost, plus lawsuits.

    So give the cop some love for being mature.

    Don't worry people, the burglars know their days are numbered.

    I have a suspicion, from watching kids play "capture the flag" and "game of Tag" that the burglars know there is only 1 cop car. so they intentionally split up in opposite directions, to improve their odds of escape.

    I also have a feeling they don't live in the places they went to. That is prob their hide-away spot, probably a dirt area or an abandoned vacation rental they parked on the driveway or barn.

    This is a common trick DUI drivers do, when they are close to a sobriety check point. drive up to a stranger's driveway and wait it out…

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