Monday, 17 June 2024

Regional

The California Highway Patrol, California Attorney General Rob Bonta and federal law enforcement agencies on Friday announced the arrest and filing of charges against the ringleader of an extensive organized retail crime operation spanning 21 counties, involving an estimated $8 million in stolen beauty products.

The announcement signals the culmination of several months of collaborative investigatory efforts in the CHP’s ongoing fight against retail crime.

The investigation was conducted by the California Department of Justice, CHP, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Postal Inspection Service along with Ulta’s Loss Prevention Organized Retail Crime team and Sephora Representatives.

It is alleged that the ringleader of the scheme paid more than seven people to steal from Ulta Beauty stores, as well as other retail outlets. The ringleader would then sell the stolen cosmetic items on her Amazon storefront.

“The success of this investigation is due to the collaboration between several of our Organized Retail Crime Task Force teams throughout the state, the CHP’s Computer Crimes Investigation Unit, the DOJ, our federal partners, and retailers. Through increased collaborative efforts, retailers and law enforcement have become more efficient and effective in our fight against organized retail crime,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee.

Recognizing the complexity and scale of the operation, in August 2023, federal investigators requested the CHP’s Organized Retail Crime Task Force, or ORCTF, join their ongoing investigation.

In December, simultaneous search warrants were executed by ORCTF investigators in Southern California and the suspects were taken into custody.

The charges, brought by the California DOJ, include organized retail theft, conspiracy, receipt of stolen property and multiple counts of grand theft.

The thefts occurred in Alameda, Placer, Kern, Contra Costa, Orange, Los Angeles, Santa Clara, San Diego, Sacramento, San Mateo, Solano, Riverside, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, Napa, Marin, Tulare, San Bernardino, Sonoma, Ventura and Yolo counties.

Since the inception of the ORCTF in 2019, the CHP has been involved in more than 2,300 investigations leading to the arrest of more than 2,200 suspects and the recovery of over 761,000 stolen goods valued at $41.7 million.

If you witness one of these crimes occurring, do not attempt to intervene — call 9-1-1. Members of the public and retailers can also report retail crime tips directly through the CHP’s website.

NORTH COAST, Calif. — The California Highway Patrol is actively investigating the suspected arson of several Department of Fish and Wildlife vehicles.

The vehicles were at their CDFW’s offices located at 619 2nd St. in Eureka.

This incident occurred in the early morning hours between 4 and 5 a.m. Monday, Feb. 12.

Anyone who believes they may have information related to this investigation is encouraged to contact CHP Officer Aaron Telloian at the California Highway Patrol Humboldt Area office at 707-822-5981, or the non-emergency public dispatch line at 707-268-2000.

Additionally, information may be sent via email to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

SACRAMENTO — The Contractors State License Board, or CSLB, joined forces with the Humboldt County District Attorney's Office in a recent undercover operation targeting unlicensed contractors.

The sting operation was conducted in the Eureka area during severe storms in early February. It resulted in four individuals receiving a Notice to Appear in criminal court for allegedly conducting contracting activities without the required license. They now face fines and possible jail time.

CSLB and law enforcement officials cited the four individuals for submitting bids that exceeded the legal limit of $500. The bids ranged from $1,400 for an interior paint project to $12,000 for deck work.

According to California law, if unlicensed individuals advertise for construction contracting services, they must clearly state they are unlicensed and cannot bid on a contract for work valued at more than $500, including labor and materials.

“It’s important to hire licensed contractors for any home improvement project, especially after a storm when unlicensed contractors may take advantage of consumers looking to repair their homes,” said David Fogt, CSLB registrar. “That’s why CSLB educates consumers on how to protect themselves by hiring a licensed contractor – it takes just a few minutes to find a licensed contractor in California.”

After this sting operation, one individual faces an additional recommended obstruction of justice charge. Investigators say this person posted information about the sting operation on social media right after leaving the sting site despite being told not to do so.

For further information or to report suspected unlicensed contractor activities, please visit the CSLB website at www.cslb.ca.gov or contact CSLB toll-free at 1-800-321-CSLB (2752). For ongoing information and updates from CSLB, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

Sierra Nevada Red Fox. Courtesy of the USDA.

The Center for Biological Diversity last week petitioned for federal protection of Sierra Nevada red foxes in the Oregon and California Cascades, from Lassen Peak to Mt. Hood.

The petition asks that the fox be listed as a threatened or endangered species under the Endangered Species Act.

“These precious mountain foxes need our help if they’re going to have any chance at survival in our rapidly warming world,” said Noah Greenwald, endangered species director at the Center. “The problems facing the Sierra Nevada red fox are complex and mounting, as they are for so many species in the mountains of western North America.”

In response to a previous Center petition, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service protected a fox population near Sonora Pass in the Sierra Nevada as endangered. But in 2015 the Service denied the fox protection in the Cascades, citing lack of information.

Since then, considerable research has shown that fox populations in Lassen, Crater Lake National Park, the Central Cascades and Mt. Hood are isolated, exceedingly small and facing multiple threats.

The fox once ranged throughout high-elevation areas of the Cascades in forests and alpine meadows. But the species has been lost from large portions of its range, including Mt. Shasta. Poisoning as part of historic predator eradication efforts and trapping were primary drivers of the fox’s historic decline.

Today the fox is threatened by habitat loss caused by fires, logging, livestock grazing and development, increased recreation and climate change, which is pushing the fox’s habitat off the top of mountains.

An additional threat is competition and predation from coyotes, which have proliferated in the Cascades in the absence of wolves. Coyotes are likely to move uphill as snowpacks recede with warming.

“The harms we’re doing to the natural world are accumulating and interacting in complex ways to the detriment of animals like the Sierra Nevada red fox,” said Greenwald. “Historic killing of predators, including wolves and the fox, have left the fox vulnerable to coyotes and risks inherent to small populations. And now, increased interest in outdoor recreation and global warming represent new and growing threats to the fox.”

The fox’s surviving populations are critically small. The population found in the Lassen area, for example, was recently estimated to contain fewer than 10 breeding adults. The other populations are not much bigger.

These foxes are uniquely adapted to living in snowy, cold environments. Along with their small body size, they have a thick coat and fur-covered pads on their feet, allowing them to stay warm and travel over snow.

They come in three color phases — a classic red phase, a black phase with silver tips to the fur, and a cross of the two. In all phases, they have a white-tipped tail and black markings on the back of the ears.

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.



Following Gov. Gavin Newsom’s increased deployment and temporary surge of California Highway Patrol officers in Oakland and the East Bay, on Wednesday the CHP announced initial operation milestones including the arrest of 71 suspects, the recovery of 145 stolen vehicles, and the seizure of four crime-linked firearms as part of CHP’s regular and undercover operations.

Suspects were arrested by the CHP for charges including possession of stolen property, auto theft, drug possession, DUI, and felony gun possession, as well as arrests for outstanding warrants.

CHP’s apprehensions during these operations include the arrest of the suspect involved in a widely seen video of an East Bay Apple Store smash-and-grab involving the theft of dozens of iPhones. Cases will be referred to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office for prosecution.

Building on these successful efforts, the CHP will conduct additional unannounced surge operations alongside local law enforcement agencies in high-crime areas in the East Bay to aggressively seek out and apprehend those engaged in criminal activity. In addition to these surge operations, the CHP continues to have an expanded and visible presence in Oakland focused on high-visibility enforcement to deter, investigate, and respond to criminal activity. The CHP currently has 72 officers assigned to the greater Oakland area assisting in this role.

“Through coordinated efforts with local partners and increased deployment, CHP is making a difference and making Oakland and the East Bay safer. With 71 arrests, 145 stolen cars recovered, and illegal firearms and drugs seized, we're sending a clear message: crime will not go unchecked in Oakland and East Bay neighborhoods. I’m grateful for the men and women of the CHP who are assisting in the local-led effort to turn the tide,” said Newsom.

“These initial surge results show that when we work together, we improve public safety,” said Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao. “The city of Oakland is grateful for Gov. Newsom's support to boost our local efforts to dismantle criminal enterprises, arrest suspects, and hold them accountable. Crime and violence don't belong on Oakland’s streets — and the city won't rest until a sense of safety and security is fully restored.”

“These results underscore our commitment to working with our local partners to advance the safety and security of California’s communities,” said CHP Commissioner Sean Duryee. “Through additional proactive operations and an increased presence, the CHP will continue to support our allied agencies in the East Bay and across the state to enforce the law and protect the residents of California.”

Wednesday’s announcement is the result of a recent temporary CHP surge operation and increased enforcement focused on combating auto theft, cargo theft, retail crime, violent crime, and high-visibility traffic enforcement in the East Bay.

In addition to increasing CHP’s presence in Oakland and the East Bay, last week the governor also announced a new partnership between the Governor’s Office, the California Department of Justice, the California National Guard, the California Highway Patrol and the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office that will result in the deployment of attorneys and resources to boost law enforcement capacity in Oakland and the East Bay to investigate, analyze, and prosecute suspects in violent, property and serious drug-related crimes.

Crime in Oakland is uniquely rising compared to other urban centers in California. Preliminary reports from Oakland indicate that in 2023, violent crime rose 21%, robbery increased 38%, and vehicle theft increased 45%.

Preliminary 2023 data from across the state indicates the opposite trend: crime, including homicides, violent crime, and property crime is down in many jurisdictions.

For example, violent crime and homicides are significantly down in Los Angeles, and early data from San Francisco indicate overall crime in 2023 was at its lowest point in the last 10 years — other than the year 2020 when daily life and routines were significantly impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investing in Oakland

In a close partnership between the Legislature and the governor, the state has made substantial investments in Oakland and the larger East Bay region to improve the health, safety, and well-being of the community:

California has invested in violence intervention and prevention efforts — including CalVIP. The state has also expanded opportunities for youth by transforming Oakland’s schools into community schools, mandating and funding after-school programs, awarding Oakland grants for youth coaches, establishing targeted college and career savings accounts, and providing tuition-free community college for students at Oakland community colleges.

California has also improved community beautification through multiple grants that bolster access to outdoor recreation and the arts and culture.

Through small business credit support programs, the state has deployed over $20.7 million to small businesses in Alameda County through IBank’s loan guarantee program and provided multiple equity-focused grants.

The state has awarded Alameda County over $919 million in climate-focused grants since 2015. Since 2019, Alameda County has received over $1 billion from the state to boost affordable housing and over $200 million to address homelessness directly.

In August 2023, the governor announced a partnership with the city of Oakland to deploy CHP officers within the city and loan up to $1.2 million to improve public safety in Oakland.

Following the governor’s directive, CHP increased its presence in Oakland — arresting 100 suspected criminals and recovering 193 stolen vehicles.

Across the Bay, the CHP’s special operation in San Francisco has resulted in over 460 arrests, 5,263 citations, and the seizure of over 18.1 kilograms of fentanyl.

Fighting crime

California has invested $1.1 billion since 2019 to fight crime, help locals hire more police, and improve public safety, including in the East Bay.

Last month, Gov. Newsom called for new legislation to expand criminal penalties and bolster police and prosecutorial tools to combat theft and take down professional criminals who profit from smash and grabs, retail theft, and car burglaries.

In 2023, as part of California’s Real Public Safety Plan, the governor announced the largest-ever investment to combat organized retail crime in state history, an annual 310% increase in proactive operations targeting organized retail crime, and special operations across the state to fight crime and improve public safety.

A herd of elk is surveyed and counted from the air. Photo courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife, or CDFW, is initiating annual helicopter surveys to inventory and monitor mule deer, elk, pronghorn antelope and bighorn sheep populations throughout the state.

Flights will be conducted in portions of Solano, Mendocino, Siskiyou, Modoc, Lassen, Inyo, Kern, Los Angeles, San Bernardino and Riverside counties during February and March.

CDFW utilizes a variety of survey methods to regularly monitor big game population size, distribution, demographics and trends over time. In more forested environments, CDFW employs the use of trail cameras and fecal DNA.

In more open habitats, aerial surveys provide an efficient and rapid method of data collection, affording CDFW biologists the ability to cover larger areas in relatively shorter time periods.

CDFW scientists use the survey data in statistical models to estimate the total population size of each species in different hunt zones or management units.

This information helps wildlife managers better understand population performance relative to a variety of factors including climate change, habitat quality, human-wildlife conflict and habitat fragmentation, among others.

Results are also used to make regulated harvest recommendations to the California Fish and Game Commission, which is the state regulatory authority that adopts tag quotas, hunting seasons and zone boundaries.

These efforts are important for managing California’s wildlife populations and are especially critical due to recent harsh winter conditions that may have had negative impacts on population numbers.

Big game hunters and other members of the public are encouraged to participate in the commission’s annual regulatory cycles. Information regarding upcoming meetings, including dates, locations, background documents and virtual meeting links are available at the California Fish and Game Commission website.

Upcoming Calendar

18Jun
06.18.2024 9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Board of Supervisors
18Jun
06.18.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park
18Jun
06.18.2024 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Lakeport City Council
19Jun
06.19.2024
Juneteenth
19Jun
06.19.2024 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm
Free veterans dinner
22Jun
06.22.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at the Mercantile
22Jun
06.22.2024 5:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Love of the Land Dinner
25Jun
06.25.2024 10:00 am - 1:00 pm
Farmers' Market at Library Park

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