August 26, 2017

On Saturday, August 26th, a meeting was convened at a cabin on Old
Strawberry Road with Deputy Ashley from the Tuolumne County
Sheriff's Office. The meeting was held because of a rash of burglaries
that had occurred the week before. About 30 Strawberry residents
attended and the following notes were taken in order to share with
SPOA members.

What Happened?

There were six cabins on Old Strawberry Road burglarized and vandalized
in the week prior to the meeting. The cabins were all located just down
from the old school site. Because cabin owners may frequent their cabins
only on weekends, it is impossible to determine the exact day of the crimes.
Some of the stolen items had been stacked in the forest area behind the
cabins with the presumed intent that the criminals would return later to pick
them up. Some items were recovered. A Fresno gang symbol was spray
painted in one of the cabins; law enforcement were unsure if this was done
by actual gang members or as a diversionary tactic by the criminals.
Evidence at the impacted cabins was collected by the sheriff's office and is
currently being examined for DNA by a national crime lab. Results from
these tests can take weeks or months depending upon the work load of the
national laboratory.

What Cabin Owners Can Do?

Deputy Ashley offered tips and ideas for those gathered:

- Owners should maintain a complete inventory, including specific
descriptions, of the contents of their cabin.
- Photographing or video is an ideal method for recording the
contents of your cabin and should be stored off-site for later
- Place identifying numbers on items, ideal for this task is driver's
license number, a birthdate, anything you can easily remember at a
later date.
- Install motion activated lights on the exterior of your cabin.
- Put internal lights on timers with varying on-and-off times day and
- Know your neighbor's names and contact information.
- Always contact the Sheriff's Office to report any suspicious vehicles
or persons in the neighborhood. Do not be concerned with reporting
something that may turn out to be a false alarm, they don't mind, they
would rather get the call.
- Write down or utilize your phone to photograph license plates of
suspicious vehicles or persons. Cell phones are ideal for this task.
- Install motion activated video systems around your cabin. Many
newer and less expensive systems have come on the market making
this option more affordable and practical.
- Make sure your cabin street number (address) is clearly marked on
the outside of your residence so responding deputies or fire
personnel can easily find you (think of finding your place on a dark
night). - Consider the installation of an alarm system. Mountain Alarm
Company and ADP were both mentioned.
- Watch out what is going on in the neighborhood, wave to people, let
anyone you encounter know that you saw them.

What You Should Know

- Response time from the sheriff's office can be long given the
responding deputy might be coming from Sonora.
- Generally there are four deputies on patrol during each shift so the
department is stretched thin.
- Because of recent state ballot initiatives, the Tuolumne County Jail
is now charged with keeping some inmates for multiple years (the
previous limit was one year) which results in crowded conditions and
may mean non-violent criminals are released pending their
arraignment for a crime.
- In 2016 there was a burglary associated with temporary forest
workers in the area but there is no evidence that the current crimes
are related.
- Cabin owners should make no assumptions about the age or
ethnicity of a suspicious person, these burglaries may be committed
by young OR older individuals, there's no known profile.
- The rangers at Pinecrest do have two law enforcement officers as
part of their team. These rangers would only respond to a life and
death emergency in the area (as a back-up to the Tuolumne County
SO) and are not assigned to patrol any community surrounding
the Pinecrest forest and campgrounds.

Action Items and Plans

- There was a request by residents and endorsed by Deputy Ashley
that Del Oro consider placing a gate at the bottom of the water tower
access road, the road off Old Strawberry Road at the top of
- Those attending would like a central clearing house for more real-
time information so cabin owners can post details of crimes,
suspicious people, or just neighborly information (not necessarily
- The formation of a formal Neighborhood Watch program where
cabin owners are supplied a map of the streets, perhaps first names
of cabin owners, a phone number; This is desired to facilitate active
communication amongst neighbors and reduce the potential for
property crimes.