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Ripon: Only 10 auto burglaries during all of 2010
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RIPON — The Ripon Police department opened a dialog with the first of a series of community chat sessions with residents Wednesday night at their North Wilma Avenue headquarters.

Sgt. Terri Jensen led the discussion and fielded questions from residents in Patrol Beat Area One for those living north of Highway 99 and between Jack Tone Road and North Ripon Road and Stockton Avenue on the east as did interim police Chief Ed Ormonde.

The area includes the truck stops, Mistlin Park and the residential areas out along River Road in addition to the Ripona section of the community.  Jensen urged her audience to be the eyes and ears of the community and call the department when they see something they feel just isn’t right.

This area has a shopping center with a mix of commercial and residential “has been growing tremendously,” she said.  

“Our arrests have been in a steady incline.  Even last year when our number of citations fell significantly, the number of arrests that were needed to be made remained pretty consistent,” she pointed out

The sergeant said several things are influencing why the number of citations are lower.   

“We are working with less officers out on the street as we try to handle some of the long haul truck issues with the semi-truck and trailer rigs  parking off of the road.  The officers continue to make a high number of contacts in order to be proactive and go out there and deter crime.”

Truckers respond quickly to tickets

She said criminals are less likely to come into the community when they see Ripon being proactive.  In the case of truckers getting off the truck route and driving through a residential section of the community – it only takes one or two tickets for them to get on their CB radios and warn their buddies about Ripon’s truck route enforcement.

Jensen said Ripon has a lot of freeway truck and auto traffic turning off Highway 99 to buy fuel and to get food meaning a lot of trucks intermingle with local traffic in that beat area.

She went on to explain that Ripon is sandwiched between two stolen vehicle capitals in the nation with Modesto to the south and Stockton to the north in addition to Manteca and Turlock.

“There are a lot of people who would like to come into Ripon and take your stuff,  but we would like to hold this ‘blue line’ around the city to let them know you don’t come into Ripon,” she stressed.

In Ripon during 2006 there were 13 vehicles stolen.  In 2009 there was a rash of stolen vehicles spiking out of the truck stops – predominantly one.  The county auto theft task force was able to recover most of those vehicles, she said.

Interim police chief Ed Ormonde interjected his thoughts on Ripon policing: “We have less crime (over previous years) because we hammer them - we throw the book at them as much as we can – but only to the people who deserve it.”

Jensen agreed saying the burglary statistics for last year showed Ripon was at a four-year low with only four residential burglaries and one commercial burglary within the city limits.

Vehicle burglaries in Ripon at 10 for 2010

Vehicle burglaries in 2010 were consistent with 2009 with a total of 10.  The number of thefts included unlocked cars and includes people not paying for gas and driving away, Jensen said.  Kids going into a convenience store on a “beer run” were also included in the number of petty thefts.

The number of assaults in the community were categorized between simple and aggravated assaults.  They are described as someone being injured seriously and having  to go to a hospital compared to a simple shoving and pushing – touching each other but not requiring medical attention.

“One year it was up to three, but overall it is pretty low in our area,” the sergeant said.  Currently there is rash of catalytic converter thefts that sell on the street for about $60 – replacement is often as much as $400.  She said the SUVs are high off the ground and easier to crawl under and their converters are secured by only four bolts.

She urged people owning Toyota SUVs – a popular target – to etch their license or VIN numbers on the converters so they can be identified when the suspect is stopped by an officer.

Ormonde said the gang and crime statistics were turned around beginning in 2004 with the addition of a gang unit with the department pushing hard with suspects going to jail. The 12-year veteran remembered that offenders starting pushing back against the police, which caused the crime stats to spike.  But when the offenders started to be sent off to prison, the numbers of offenses dropped, he said.

Ripon gang problem basically non-existent

“Our gang problem is basically non-existent,” Ormonde added. “We don’t have the amount of taggings or vandalism or the types of violence that we had.  We had some shootings – people weren’t being struck, but they were shooting into buildings.”

The interim chief said he still remembers a stabbing after a high school football game where a Manteca student stabbed a Ripon youth.  “Even though we are growing with less officers we are experiencing less (serious) crimes.”    

Ormonde said Ripon had a reputation where if a motorist was stopped for a traffic violation they got a ticket.  The chief said the officers are trying to get away from that in favor of using more common sense with each individual traffic stop.

One Modesto resident attending the meeting said he came to see how Ripon compared to his neighborhood in the La Loma district of Modesto.  He said his home had been burglarized five times in three weeks.  He was surprised to hear there are some 450 law enforcement officers living in the community from Central Valley and Bay Area departments.

Cindy Carlsen-Bermudez who recently moved from the Southern California city of Valencia with her husband said when she moved into Ripon she was told not to speed or she would be getting a ticket.  

“I’m fixed on cruise control,” she said chuckling.

Almond farmer Cliff Eskes asked for clarification of the Ripon city limits by his 160-acre property on the northwest saying there has been some confusion in past years over what is Ripon Police Department jurisdiction and what was that of the sheriff and the CHP.  

“It’s like we were in no man’s land – where do we belong?” he asked.  Eskes said they had some 250 sprinklers snapped off by thieves. He attempted to seek out the right department to make a report.  He noted that in past years the CHP would handle accidents on the west side of Jack Tone Road with Ripon covering the east side.  The city limit line was right down the middle of the road.

The next meeting at the police department will focus on area or beat two, also north of the freeway and from North Ripon Road that turns into Stockton Avenue on the west to the eastern city limits.  It will be held on the second Wednesday in February at the police department auditorium.