Burglaries are on the rise in Big Bear Valley. Residents and the Sheriff’s Department are taking a stand. Burglars aren’t welcome here.
In the past month, the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Big Bear Station has taken reports for 156 crimes. That number includes 67 reports of burglary, robbery, theft/larceny or vehicle break-ins. Of that 67, 41 are burglaries.
The Sheriff’s Department has taken a proactive approach and several arrests have been made in recent months. But the rise in the reports tells authorities there are several suspects or groups of suspects committing the burglaries, says Tiffany Swantek, public information officer for the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station. She says it’s not only local criminals, but some burglaries are suspected to be committed by people from off the mountain.
Deputies are following leads from Big Bear to other areas including Los Angeles and San Diego, Swantek says.
Neighborhood Watch, or at least residents keeping their eyes and ears open, can help. A group of women calling themselves the Power Rangers in Fawnskin have had enough of the burglaries in their community. “I can’t live in a place where I feel scared,” says Suzi Caron. Knowledge replaces fear, so she, Chris Weber and Priscilla Owens are out to find the knowledge. A meeting with Swantek is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 5, to gather information on Neighborhood Watch, guidelines on reporting suspicious activity, what to watch and listen for, when to call 9-1-1 versus the main department number, and more.
The group is holding a Town Hall meeting Saturday, Oct. 6, 10 a.m. to noon to present the information to residents and property owners in Fawnskin. The meeting at the Fawnskin Fire Station is open to all Valley residents, Caron says.
Caron says she requested a member of the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station attend the meeting, but was turned down because it’s a Saturday. Swantek told The Grizzly that overtime isn’t authorized for a deputy to be assigned to the meeting, but if someone is available, he or she might attend. Swantek will send a member of the Citizens on Patrol unit, but COPs can’t answer specific questions, she says.
Caron says the meeting is informative. The goal is to create an environment in the community that is not burglar friendly. She’s not advocating Neighborhood Watch unless the community as a whole wants to organize, Caron says. Although, Caron says, she believes in the program and knows it works. She says in her primary residential neighborhood off the mountain, there is a Neighborhood Watch program that was diligent in keeping an eye out that led to the arrest of burglary suspects.
Neighborhood Watch isn’t a bunch of gun-toting vigilantes, Caron says. It’s about listening and watching and making phone calls, she says.
Swantek agrees. The program gets residents involved, which provides tools for deputies to be more proactive, she says.
Residents should get to know each other. Then they should pay attention to what goes on in the neighborhood. If someone sees a car hanging around, or if there is someone walking to the back of houses, those could be signs of a burglar casing the area or getting ready to break into a home, Swantek says. If you hear glass breaking dogs barking aggressively or continuously, or an alarm ringing, a call to authorities is warranted.
Swantek says residents shouldn’t feel embarrassed about calling or feel intimidated. She would rather see people fired up and diligent rather than complacent.
Often times authorities are able to compare burglaries with those in other areas looking for similarities. A data base of information can often tie suspects to several burglaries, which could enhance bail amounts and jail time if convicted, Swantek says. The information is due to residents making those reports, Swantek says.
Some calls should be made to the main station number (909-866-0100), Swantek says. Those that warrant a call to 9-1-1 involve a crime in progress. For example, if you see someone carrying a TV out of a neighbor’s house, call 9-1-1.
As a reminder, all calls made to 9-1-1 from a cell phone ping off the closest cell tower and are routed through California Highway Patrol dispatch. It’s important to state the nature of your call immediately and know your address and cross street, Swantek says.
If you are going on vacation, extra patrol of your house and vacation checks can be requested, Swantek says. Extra patrols can also be requested due to the number of burglaries in a particular area, she says.
A website, www.crimemapping.com, shows the number of crimes committed in the area, and can be broken down by type. Log into the site, click on California and Big Bear Lake Police. It shows the crime reports for the entire Big Bear Valley area. Users can search for a specific time frame, by type of crime and more.
Swantek says a Neighborhood Watch is forming in the Boulder Bay area and she’s hoping more neighbors organize. Caron says it’s about being a good neighbor.
For more information call Swantek at the Big Bear Sheriff’s Station at 909-866-0100.
Contact reporter Judi Bowers via email at