SAN DIEGO (CNS) - An ex-con from Ramona was behind bars Wednesday on suspicion of taking part in a burglary ring that targeted numerous victims, including local Girl Scouts, in recent months, sheriff's officials reported.
Mark Jeffrey Ertman, 56, was arrested Tuesday morning at his home in the 2400 block of San Vicente Road, Sgt. Bill Hout said.
The suspect's property, nicknamed "the Chicken Ranch," allegedly served a crew of East County thieves as a place to conceal stolen property and try to render it untraceable, according to Hout. Detectives believe the group carried out at least 20 residential and commercial burglaries over the last year, he said.
The arrest culminated a two-month investigation during which authorities booked 13 people on criminal charges and seized methamphetamine, $8,000 in cash and about $44,000 worth of stolen property, including vehicles, guns and explosives.
Most of the crimes involved storage sheds and garages left open, unlocked or unsupervised, providing easy access for the bandits, who mostly stole power tools, Lt. James Bovet said.
Two of the burglaries took place at Camp Winacka, a Girl Scout wilderness retreat in Julian, last June and August, according to Bovet. There, the thieves made off with chainsaws, a leaf blower, weed trimmer, generator, golf cart and fuel can with gasoline in it. The monetary losses totaled more than $13,000, the lieutenant said.
The perpetrators of the heists allegedly used Ertman's home to store and alter the stolen goods, removing serial numbers and other identifying features so they could sell the items at swap meets and through online classified ads with less risk, according to Bovet.
Ertman was booked into San Diego Central Jail on multiple charges of receiving and possessing stolen property, and an allegation of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He was being held in lieu of $180,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Thursday afternoon.
Testimony continued Thursday in the civil lawsuit surrounding the mysterious death of Rebecca Zahau as her boyfriend Jonah Shacknai took the stand.
The bulk of the rain is over however there will be another slight chance of light showers in the mountains late Saturday night into Sunday morning.
After weeks of school threats countywide, local leaders are announcing a plan of action to put a stop to it.
A man rescued by firefighters and a Sheriff's Deputy from a burning mobile home in Spring Valley was detained and being questioned Friday morning on suspicion of intentionally sparking the blaze, authorities said.
A group of North County lifeguards were honored Thursday night with the Medal of Valor for saving the life of a boater who wound up stranded on a jetty last October.
A San Bernardino man was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for carrying out a credit/debit fraud scheme that targeted retail stores, restaurants and hotels throughout San Diego County, prosecutors announced Thursday.
The defense team of a Marine accused in a fatal stabbing on a California Marine Corps base argued Thursday that the death was a tragic accident and the two friends were playing around with a knife.
A San Diego County sheriff's deputy was free on bail Thursday following his arrest by Riverside County authorities on suspicion of lewd acts with a child.
Some San Diego communities are pushing back against dockless bikes and scooters cluttering the streets and sidewalks.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer met with the Mexican foreign affairs secretary Thursday to discuss ways to improve economic prosperity and infrastructure, a spokeswoman said.