There was about an hour's presentation by the county RAID team:
Riverside Auto-Theft Interdiction Detail.
The first thing I noticed when we got to the parking lot was that there were some tough looking hombres lurking about. We made a beeline to the front door of City Hall and was relieved to see a uniformed officer. Those toughs were going to have to behave themselves now.
Oh wait, those big bad men were actually on our payroll. They were undercover officers that work the car theft detail. I figured it wasn't a good idea to photograph them, so I did a hasty sketch to give you a rough idea.
|Investigator JJ Rodriguez and Detective Moll.|
Investigator JJ Rodriguez was the average size man while Detective Norbert Moll looked like Grizzly Adams, after forgetting to shave for an additional 3 years while pumping iron almost as often as he visited the tattoo parlor. He has to play the roll of badass convincingly... I was convinced, and he knows he's doing something right when ladies clutch their purses and men cross the street as he approaches.
The powerpoint presentation covered a lot of things that most of us wouldn't consider in the world of stolen cars and chop shops.
Detective Moll broke down the stats this way. 31 chop shops a year is 3 a month. 403 arrests is more than one a day. This is from their task force, not just the overall auto theft stats in the county.
The key takeaway points from the meeting include:
- Don't leave your car running unattended, even if it's in your driveway.
- Mid '90s Hondas are the easiest to steal.
- Be wary of car deals that are too good to be true. Craigslist is just one place that can have ads for hot cars. Caveat Emptor (buyer beware) should be your motto no matter where you're making the purchase.
- Don't buy anything of value from a person that won't show you their ID.
- When buying a car (or other high dollar item), use your smart phone to take a picture of the seller's ID.
- When buying a used car, suggest that the transaction take place in the local police station parking lot.
- If you come across a chopped car, don't touch it. Call it in. If it's in a rural area, use your smart phone to get the GPS location to give the police.
- Painted over, or removed, ID numbers on heavy equipment, or a boat, is a bad sign.
- Don't hesitate to report suspicious activity. Call the none emergency number.
- Be careful when dealing with car thieves. If you suspect something, let the police handle it.
In response to one person speaking about taking a picture of a license plate of a suspected car thief, detective Moll replied:
Be careful. I'm glad that you're filled with piss and vinegar, and you're ready to do battle, but when we were doing the storefront (undercover operation) and were dealing with car thieves on a regular basis, they also had guns, they had drugs, they had done prior crimes... shooting people, stabbing people... these guys are criminals as living.
- RAID task force has 10 members for all of Riverside County (once you discount supervisors).
- Lojack is a good device to recover a stolen vehicle.
- Don't leave garage door openers in cars that you park outside. For the ultra cautious, you may consider taking the door opener with you when out shopping, dining, the movies, etc. Some brazen thieves will break into your car just to get your opener. Once they get your address from your car registration, they can have easy access to your house with the opener.
- The Club is a good deterrent for random car thefts.
- Tracking devices can be purchased for about $150 that can be hardwired into your cars.
- Soon the RAID task force will be starting up a facebook page.
- It's good to use social media (FaceBook, Nextdoor App) to keep up with what's happening locally.
Investigator Rodriguez related a story about a local theft of some heavy construction equipment.
The location of the heavy equipment sounded like it was at, or near, the Subway construction area off of Bundy Canyon during early phases of construction. It was a Saturday and the perp got dressed in construction vest and helmet, sauntered onto the property, acted like he belonged there. Fired up the tractor and drove it from the site to his home on the east side of the freeway. His intentions were to finish the work on his property and then return the equipment by Sunday evening, but didn't finish in time. On Monday morning the workers discovered that the tractor was stolen and reported it. It had Lojack and they tracked it and found the thief using it. He admitted to the theft.
The meetings are quarterly and the next one will be in September.
Use the Non-Emergency number 951-776-1099 to report suspicious activity and NOT the emergency 911 number. If you see something out of place, they want you to call and report it.
• • •
And now my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving.
[rips off his rear-view mirror and throws it out of the car]
What's-a behind me is not important.— Franco Bertollini, Gumball Rally, 1976
Wildomar Rap remembers fondly the elderly security guard that was guarding the new construction site where we used to play pick up baseball games (1978). The problem was that our home runs would end up in his yard and he eventually got tired of us (we were hitting more homers than the major leaguers at the height of the steroids era). Tip o' the cap to Chogie.