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Annual report shows a decline in burglaries in 2018

RANCHO SANTA FE — Chief Matt Wellhouser of the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol delivered the 2018 annual report at the Feb. 7 Rancho Santa Fe Association’s monthly board of directors meeting. The first item he addressed was how the total number of burglaries decreased from 26 in 2017 to 16 in 2018.

“I’m happy to report that burglaries dropped a little bit,” Wellhouser said.

In 2018, there were 13 residential burglaries, two commercial burglaries — which fall under a business or construction site — and one vehicle break-in. Wellhouser compared this to 2017, in which 15 residential burglaries, four commercial break-ins and seven vehicle burglaries were reported.

Wellhouser said four of the residential burglaries in 2018 were attributed to an Inglewood family crime ring — the suspects were arrested in Poway last year and were believed to be responsible for other robberies in North County.

Wellhouser described the burglaries in the Ranch as opportunistic in nature, such as being committed by people who had worked at the residence they stole from.

He also said no one region was more susceptible to robberies.

“There really isn’t a clump of burglaries that is a hot spot,” said Wellhouser, adding that no area in the Ranch was deemed a higher target. 

Overall, grand theft and petty theft decreased in 2018.

Last year, there were 4,448 calls for service, which Wellhouser cited as a 12 percent increase from calls in 2017.

“Our patrol initiated 14 percent of the calls,” he said. “Calls also went up for suspicious people and vehicles.”

Wellhouser still encouraged Covenant residents to call the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol if something looks out of place despite the decline in burglaries.

Wellhouser said he didn’t want to give members a false sense of security since there is always an ebb and flow in crime.  That said, he wanted residents to stay diligent by locking their doors and windows and setting residential alarms.

On the traffic front, there were 27 injury collisions in 2018 as compared to a total of 40 in 2017. There were also 79 non-injury collisions, six more than in 2017. Wellhouser attributed most of the accidents to excessive speed, while 20 were caused by distractions and 15 due to driving under the influence.

In 2018, the Rancho Santa Fe Patrol motored more than 122,000 miles and conducted 39,000 security checks for Covenant residents who were either away on business or vacation.

Wellhouser commended his staff for the fantastic work that they do and their ongoing ability to stay visible in the community.