Barney Brause, reserve sheriff’s deputy and local Neighborhood Watch coordinator, said incidents of burglary and vandalism are increasing in Idyllwild and Pine Cove. Between five and eight break-ins occurred in the past 10 days. It is time, said Brause, for neighbors to become more vigilant, given lean staffing at Riverside County Sheriff’s Department Hemet Station. In at least a few of the burglaries, off-Hill suspects have been identified.

Five houses on Pine Crest, which Tracy Philippi watches, were broken into this last week. “They come with moving boxes and take high-end tools, generators, newer flat screen TVs, food and supplies,” said Philippi, who reported the break-ins. Philippi said he believes he knows who the miscreants are and that drugs are involved.

Rick Foster repairs or manages a number of homes that were also broken into last week. In one, he and a sheriff’s department community service officer stopped what may have been a burglary in progress when they prevented a car with two men from Hemet from leaving a home on Falling Leaf. When asked by the officer what they were doing, the men replied they were lost and looking for direction. Neighbors saw the patrol car, came by and said the same men were there the day before, again saying they were lost. Foster said the men had real estate and Forest Service maps in the car.

Brause recommended neighbors begin organizing. Contact Brause or Deputy Walter Kurtz to set up a Neighborhood Watch meeting at (951) 791-3406. Neighborhood Watch packets are also available at the Town Crier office.