By Douglas W. Motley
A dozen or so mountain residents showed up at Snow Valley Mountain Resort bright and early last Friday to participate in the latest Coffee with a Cop meet-and-greet event. Recently promoted Sheriff’s Capt. Don Lupear told The Alpine Mountaineer that Snow Valley Vice President and General Manager Kevin Somes had invited the department to hold its quarterly Coffee with a Cop event at the popular ski area, near Running Springs.
Noting that he grew up on the mountain, Lupear said, “Kevin really wanted us to do it. To the best of my memory, this has never been done before.”
Joining Lupear were four Twin Peaks Sheriff’s Station deputies and sergeants, along with several office workers and members of the department’s Search and Rescue Team. Also participating was a contingent of five California Highway Patrol officers and sergeants from the department’s Arrowhead Area office in Running Springs, led by Lt. Michael Salinas.
“I came to ski and to meet with our local law enforcement officers. This is a wonderful opportunity to get to know our CHP officers and let them know that we appreciate them,” said Lake Arrowhead resident Chris Overend. Longtime Running Springs resident Cheryl Gonzalez added, “I’m very thankful for our law enforcement officers on the mountain and our search and rescue team. We’re lucky to have them.”
Marlyn Dinon, an active member of the Lake Gregory Yacht Club, said she came to talk to sheriff’s officials and Citizens on Patrol volunteers about problems caused by homeless persons sleeping in the parking lot of the club’s Crestline clubhouse. In addition to trash, she said she’s most concerned about drug paraphernalia left behind by transients. “I hope we can get the sheriff’s department to do drive-by patrols after dark.”
Asked what is trending crime-wise in the mountain communities, Capt. Lupear said there has been a recent rash of burglaries at short-term rental homes, where the perpetrators are using stolen credit cards to get the code to gain entrance and steal property. “This is a new type of crime. We recently arrested a guy who burglarized five homes the same day.”
Lupear said a camera system at one of the homes enabled deputies to identify the suspect. “Reviewing videos from Ring and Nest camera systems has helped us solve a lot of crimes, including break-ins at short-term rentals.”
According to CHP Lt. Michael Salinas, motorists illegally parking in traffic lanes for snow play has been a wintertime problem for many years, especially along Highway 18 corridor between Snow Valley and Big Bear Dam. He said the problem had been greatly reduced this winter, ever since the county raised the fine from $20 to $250. “Now we are working with Caltrans to get the new fine on warning signs.”
Following the Coffee with a Cop meet-and-greet, many of those attending strapped on skis and enjoyed the remainder of the morning shredding through 24 to 40 inches of powder on some of Snow Valley’s 11 runs.