The goal of the meeting was to bring all parties to the table regarding criminal activity in Wolf Creek as well as the City of Temecula; formulate and implement solutions and track results. We found the city to be highly engaged, possessing a detailed analysis of our issues with all in attendance highly motivated to succeed in resolving the issues to the extent possible.
The Chief opened the meeting with a report of the issues and the resources being utilized to manage them. It was mutually agreed that this issue cannot be addressed by the city or residents’ alone, but as a team. He reported that the majority of crime stats in Temecula were down in 2014 vs 2013 and holding for the first quarter of 2015 with the exception of burglaries.
The Chief reported that specialized patrol and observations were occurring but could not elaborate on the methods being utilized. The issue of increased visibility and patrol were addressed by the committee. The committee discussed the concerns of residents that state they have lived in Wolf Creek for years and haven’t seen a black and white patrolling the neighborhood. The Chief responded that the Temecula PD responded to 400 calls for service last month in Wolf Creek and Redhawk combined and that marked patrol units responded the majority of time. He also pointed out that criminal activity statistically occurs with more frequency, not when residents are leaving for work or coming home, it occurs while they are away from home. Thus increased patrols occur during those hours.
The committee further discussed the frustration of residents and their desire to get involved. It was discussed and agreed that the more eyes and ears in the area the better results. Several programs were discussed to achieve that goal. All present agreed that neighborhood watch programs were vital to reduce the criminal activity and it was suggested that to maintain interest, further training on issues involved and meetings involving each block should occur at least quarterly as well as collective meetings of all watch groups for best practice discussions. Everyone agreed that communication in electronic medium needs improvement to create and maintain the effectiveness and participation in the program.
The two council members raised the issue of creating a local smart phone app to report criminal activity directly to the PD using the camera on your phone to provide visual documentation. Mr Rahn mentioned a program used in San Diego and New York and Mr Naggar mentioned a program currently being utilized by residents in Lake Elsinore. They both will provide this information to the Wolf Creek Board for discussion. In furthering the potential of a program using phone apps, the issue of communicating throughout the community the program and its uses came up. It was suggested that signs be made and installed throughout the community for residents walking or exercising in the community can stimulate both awareness and interest. Temecula has a specific number for reporting incidents that are not 911 level directly to Temecula PD. That number is 951-696-HELP ( 4357 ). The City Manager will discuss this recommendation with the City Attorney to advise if this would violate any Municipal Codes. It is not in the City’s budget to purchase these signs however the HOA Board members present agreed to take this back to the Board for possible HOA financial sponsorship.
Addressing increased patrol visibility by residents was discussed. Residents can volunteer to participate in the Civilian Patrol program by filling out a volunteer application at the TCC website. In order to participate, you must pass a background check, obtain all required training and be registered as a Disaster Preparedness worker. It was noted that volunteers patrol designated areas to add to the eyes and ears of the Police. They patrol in marked Ford Escort vehicles and are connected by radio to the Police. Volunteers volunteer time per week, but cannot designate the area they patrol. That is determined by the police.
The increased number of arrests in the past several weeks for home burglaries in Wolf Creek and Redhawk was discussed. In regards to the arrest of suspects involved on Logger Trail in Wolf Creek, four of the seven suspects were minors age 15 and attend Great Oak High School. Prop 47 was also discussed which permits many of this level criminals to avoid arrest and receive a summons.
The issue of soliciting and recyclable thefts from trash cans on the street was discussed. A recent court decision has overturned Municipal Codes that defined articles in the container at the curb as property of the resident. As of now, it is not illegal to go through and remove recyclables. Further, everyone should step up to protect their identity information in the trash as that too is now fair game when at the curb. Regarding aggressive solicitors, the Chief pointed out that the activity on social media reporting these and criminal activities in Wolf Creek do not match up with the number or type of calls being made to the Police dispatch. The Chief asked that everyone be reminded to report anything suspicious as it is never too small of an issue. The Department uses 72 hour snapshots of all areas in Temecula to review all criminal activity in the area. Trends are looked for and patrol changes made accordingly.
The HOA Board members present offered the Chief of Police a permanent spot in our Community Newsletter and on our website. The Chief accepted the offer and will begin writing a “Chiefs Corner” article for each issue and forward any communication regarding Wolf Creek or Temecula issues for posting on our web page (mywolfcreek.com). If haven’t done so, please look for important information on a regular basis. In closing of the meeting, the Chief pointed out that for all of the above to succeed; it must be a continuous effort to be effective. He urges residents to keep their garages closed, porch and carriage lights on at night, all windows and doors closed and locked when you are not home. He further related to his own neighbor across the street from him that continues on a regular basis to leave his home dark and his garage door open all night. The Chief continues to discuss his concern with the neighbor and has sought support from surrounding neighbors to point out that these concerns not only effective the safety of the owner’s property and family, but to those in the community as it is an open invitation to criminals. One of the officers present reminded everyone that at the December 2014 Wolf Creek Safety meeting, one resident advised that they work in the Jail System in Riverside County and reported that the criminals felt it was their right and an open invitation if you make it so easy for them to steal.
In closing, Wolf Creek resident Leslie Lawson and the Wolf Creek Lifestyle Corporation are co-sponsoring a Community Safety Fair at the Community Center parking lot on Saturday May 16, 2015 from 11am to 2pm.
The council members present advised they would attend as did the Chief of Police and the management staff of the department. They ask that you please reach out to them at this event to discuss concerns and solutions to issues involving Wolf Creek.
At the Safety Fair, Leslie Lawson is sponsoring children finger printing for parents to keep and have in the event a child goes missing. Many first responder vehicles will be on site for kids to view and sit in including patrol cars, motorcycles, fire trucks, ambulance and more. The police department will have all of their pamphlets available and reminds us that the Crime Prevention unit offers free home inspections to advise you of areas you could improve for your family safety and protection of your property. It was suggested that neighbors collaborate and arrange for 6 to 8 homes on the block to participate. The crime prevention officers will then schedule the reviews with owners at the same time and answer any concerns regarding improving safety on your block. To take advantage of this important inspection, please call the crime prevention unit at (951) 506-5132.