Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Hemet Station Commander, Captain Scot Collins and staff will meet with Hill community members at a town meeting to discuss the recent escalation in criminal activity in the Idyllwild area, including an armed robbery and a growing number of felony crimes to property. The community meeting will be held at the Idyllwild School gymnasium at 2 p.m. on Saturday, March 24.

Collins and staff will address the recent spike in criminal activity, current staffing at the station and how that affects response times, current average response times, strategies RCSD can employ to deal with this uptick in crime on the Hill, the role and use of the Mountain Community Patrol, and what the community members can do to protect their homes and neighborhoods. This will be an important opportunity for any who are concerned about recent crime escalation in the Idyllwild area to hear from the commander charged with protection of Hill communities, to ask questions, and to learn what steps they can take to thwart criminal activity.

The crimes to property, often targeting second homes with absent owners, include burglary, attempted burglary, grand theft, vehicle theft, burglary of a vehicle and felony vandalism with damage and or losses exceeding $400. Although relatively small in number compared with the volume of criminal activity in Anza and in the Hemet, San Jacinto area, the escalation in Idyllwild is recent and dramatic.

By comparison, in all of 2011, there were 23 (reported) felony property crimes. Yet in just Jan. and Feb., 2012 there were already 13, more than half of what had occurred all of last year. And of those 23 reported property crimes in 2011, 11 took place in the last three months of the year.

RCSD thinks this spike in criminal activity is very possibly locally originated, given the limited ingress and egress to and from the community.

Tell your neighbors, especially part time owners, and plan to attend. It is hoped the session can be audio and video taped for future listening or viewing by single proprietor business owners who might not be able to attend because of shop or restaurant hours.

In response to recent burglaries and criminal incidents, some residents have suggested mounting surveillance cameras throughout the downtown area, motion sensor lights for homes in residential areas, and forming neighborhood or community watch groups. Bring your questions and suggestions, but if at all concerned about what is occurring, this is the opportunity to become informed and instructed by the law enforcement authority charged with local enforcement.