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.