Category Archives: Crime Watch

Vandals Strike Lions Club Sensory Garden

Just five short months ago A.D. “Ike” Enzenauer stood in front of a group of Rancho Santee Lions Club members, local dignitaries, and associated friends to help dedicate the Lions Club’s Sensory Garden at Santee Lakes. Now it seems that unknown individuals have decided that the community does not deserve this treasure. In July someone had removed the braille plaques that provide sight-impaired visitors with information about the plants in the garden and thrown them around the area. Then in August a number of plants were pulled from the garden.

This month Enzenauer sent a letter to Santee Patch (“Vandalism at the Santee Lions Sensory Garden”) about the events, asking for community help in finding the culprits and ending the destruction of this special community treasure. Scouting Santee would like to echo this request and ask that anyone with information contact the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Santee Patch, or this blog. In addition, if you would consider donating to help the Lions Club replace and repair the damage caused, it would go far toward restoring Santee’s reputation as a caring and concerned community. Let’s all work together to keep Santee special.

Santee Patch: Steve Bartholow at

San Diego Sheriff’s Department (non-emergency): 858-565-5200 or online at

Previous Scouting Santee story: Lions Club Sensory Garden Opens at Santee Lakes












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Prescription Drug Take Back Day

If your home is like most in the country, you probably have some old prescription drugs lying around. You know the ones, that medicine that didn’t work or caused some bad reaction. Or maybe you didn’t follow the doctor’s instructions and finish all of the medication as directed. Whatever the reason, that stuff is there waiting to cause trouble. Did you know that one of the biggest drug problems now is kids taking multiple prescription drugs at “parties” where they all dip into their parents’ medicine cabinets to see what’s there? All of these random drugs are dumped into a container and the kids just dip in and grab a handful to pop. This results in overdoses, hospitalizations, and even death!

The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) is working to combat this problem as well as the problems of accidental poisoning and overdose from leftover prescription drugs. On Saturday, April 30, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. the DEA and the San Diego Sheriff’s Department, Santee Station, will hold a prescription drug take back at the Walgreens at 10512 Mission Gorge Rd. You can bring down any and all drugs to drop off, no questions asked. Help protect children and families from the dangers of prescription drug abuse. For more information you can call the San Diego County Rx Drug Abuse Task Force Hotline at 877-662-6384, or for other locations visit the DEA NTBI site search page.


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2009, A Santee Review – Part 1


Here at the end of the year, with little going on, I thought it would be a good time to look back over the past 12 months and see what has happened in Santee. In spite of the down economy and the poor housing market, there were a lot of positives. So, without further ado, a review of Santee 2009.

The year kicked off with the Santee Library hosting the first of a series of book discussions centered around the themes of “Love and Forgiveness.” The series was developed by the American Library Association and the Fetzer Institute, and the Santee Library was one of 50 around the country chosen to take part. Dr. Martha Stoddard-Holmes, Associate Professor of Literature and Writing Studies at CSU San Marcos, was the host/moderator for the series, which ran through May. Also in January were the Chamber of Commerce’s annual Installation Dinner (which I was unable to attend) and monthly Sunrise Santee and After-5 Mixer. On the down side, I posted a request for help from the Sheriff’s Department after a high school student was attacked by one of a group of 8 young men, suffering severe injuries. I did not hear what followed on the incident.

My final post in January, on the new Edgemoor Hospital facilities, has, interestingly enough, become the top post on my blog. I wrote the post after going to an Open House held at the new location, and after reading a rather scathing opinion piece in the Union-Tribune. In contrast to the impression in the U-T article, I was very impressed with the facilities and the people I met there. The new hospital is now completely up and running and the old facilities are scheduled for the wrecking ball this week.

February started off on a decided down note with the coverage of the search for two suspects in a horrifying child molestation case. Aaron Zendejas had been arrested for providing children he had been hired to babysit to Jared Yaffe, who was wanted in multiple states on child pornography charges. Zendejas later pleaded guilty to charges and faces 15 years to life in prison; Yaffe was arrested in Brazil and will stand trial in April. Also on the crime scene, a postal employee was arrested for stealing gift cards from his route and possibly the post office as well.

On a more positive note, Cajon Park School held a dedication ceremony for its new classroom building and an Open House for the community to see all the work that had been done through the Proposition R programs. This included renovations on the existing buildings and the reconfiguration of their circular classroom building into a Library/Media Center. The new building has classrooms for 5th and 6th grade upstairs and 7th and 8th (junior high) downstairs. The upstairs section is connected to the main school buildings by a bridge.

In February I also wrote a new On Food Patrol about Mimi’s Cafe, a Meet Your Neighbor for the Santee Library’s speaker series, and previews for a Chamber Small Business Seminar, the Miss Santee Pageant, and the Christian Youth Theater production of Honk.

March was a busy month both in Santee and here on the blog. I did one more post on Honk and covered the PLAY (Performing Lakeside Acting Youth) production of Beauty and the Beast at Lakeside Middle School. I missed the Miss Santee Pageant, but I did post a short piece on the winners, Miss Santee, Sierra Billock, and Miss Santee Teen, Nicole Ehlke. These two young women have been very dedicated and involved representatives of the city. I also introduced the Santee Chamber of Commerce Ambassadors, who were kicking off the Shop Santee and Save campaign focusing on Santee’s low sales tax rate. The month ended with a post on the preparation work that the U.S. Census was doing for the upcoming 2010 Census.

Every year March brings Santree Fest, a celebration of Earth Day and recognition of Santee as an official Tree City by the National Arbor Day Foundation. This year the event was held at Mast Park, located between Carlton Hills Blvd. and the Wal-Mart shopping center, along the San Diego River. The day included tree planting, trash and non-native vegetation removal, and information booths. There was also entertainment by the group Virtual Strangers, a tree climbing demonstration by West Coast Arborists, and plenty of food provided by local eateries. One of the sponsors of the event, the San Diego River Park Foundation, would be involved in other activities during the year.

April was as busy as March, if not more so. The big event in April, and very likely the year, was the grand opening of the first Sonic Drive In in San Diego County. Not only did it create huge lines all around the restaurant on Mission Gorge, it gave me my biggest single day of traffic, with nearly 600 hits. Because I write about Santee, and am part of the Chamber of Commerce, I was able to attend the special VIP event prior to the full opening on the Monday, April 6. Later on I posted some tips for cutting the hassle of waiting in line, and even a taste-off between Sonic and In-N-Out.

A second major event in April was the Spring Eggstravaganza at Santee Lakes, presented by the City of Santee and Padre Dam. The day included egg hunts, games, rides, and food. Primo DJ provided music and an army of volunteers kept everything running smoothly for the families that came to enjoy the fun. Another important event at Santee Lakes was the annual Relay for Life of Santee for the American Cancer Society. This would be the tenth year for the Relay, which raises money and awareness for the fight against cancer.

Also this month were a pair of grand openings, Frubble and SewCalCuties, the new Santee Farmers Market, the monthly After-5 Mixer, and several other small events. I covered the Omelette Factory for another Food Patrol, did some updates on Sonic traffic, took part in the RiverBlitz survey along the San Diego River, and previewed two health-related events and a new CYT production.

It’s pretty clear that 2009 was a busy year in Santee. Rather than trying to review it all in one post, I will continue my look back with two follow-up posts. Meanwhile, enjoy the end of the year and remember not to drink and drive on New Year’s Eve.


Filed under Business, Chamber Activities, Community, Crime Watch, Entertainment, On Food Patrol, Schools

Sheriff’s Department Runs DUI Checkpoint in Santee

In an effort to cut down on the number of drunk driving accidents, the San Diego Sheriff’s Department conducted a DUI checkpoint on westbound Mission Gorge Road between SR-125 and SR-52 on Friday night. I was on the way to the freeway, and got caught up in the traffic. At first I was, admittedly, frustrated about getting stuck – especially after I sat through three signal changes at the 125/Mission Gorge intersection without moving. But I realized that this action, as inconvenient as it might feel for some people, is a way to get a few dangerous drivers off the road – and possibly deter some people from driving drunk in the future.

The deputies had blocked off all but the far right lane on westbound Mission Gorge, and about a half dozen were stationed along the driver’s side of the lane. A group of cars would be allowed into the checkpoint and the deputies would get to work. These officers were very professional and polite, asking to see driver’s license, registration, and insurance at each car. You have to admire them for being able to deal with the variety of responses they must get – from polite to downright belligerent, I’m sure.

I’m going to take the opportunity to urge everyone to make a commitment not only to NOT drink and drive, but to help keep others from driving under the influence. Take the keys, volunteer to be designated driver, and please don’t allow or help underage drivers to drink. We have lost too many young people recently to drunk driving accidents.

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Santee Celebrates “National Night Out”

National Night Out

Tuesday, August 4, was National Night Out, America’s Night Against Crime, hosted by the Santee Sheriff’s Station.  The event was held at Woodglen Vista Park, just off N. Magnolia Ave., and ran from 5:00-7:30 pm.  There was music, food, games and activities for kids, a K-9 demonstration, and much more.  Several companies and organizations had booths, including one where children could practice calling 911 for an emergency.  Also on hand were groups with information about drunk driving, domestic abuse, and child safety.

Search and Rescue Team Members

One group attending was the Sheriff’s Volunteer Search and Rescue team.  Four of the volunteers and their dogs were there to visit and answer questions.  I spoke with Lenore Ceithaml, a seven-year SAR veteran, with her golden retriever, Aura.  Ceithaml, a breast cancer survivor, first got involved with the team following her treatment as a way of giving back to the community and being out in nature.  Aura is “area certified,” which means that she is trained to find any human in a particular area.  These dogs are used for searches where the missing person is likely the only human around other than searchers.  Aura has several other certifications, including “avalanche certification” for snow rescues.  Generally it takes two years for a dog to become certified, but Ceithaml’s other dog, Karma, became area certified in 17 months – quite an achievement for a dog only 20 months old.

K-9 Demonstration

One of the highlights of the evening was the K-9 demonstration by members of the Sheriff’s K-9 team.  The San Diego Sheriff’s Department has the largest K-9 unit in California and, at 44 years, the longest extant.  The star of the demonstration was Marco, a four-year-old German shepherd from Denmark by way of Israel who takes all of his commands in Danish.  All dogs in the K-9 unit undergo a 12-week basic training to learn commands and their main role, which includes acting as backup for their handlers and chasing down fleeing suspects.  They are then cross-trained in a second area, such as drug detection or tracking.  Dogs live full-time with their handlers, retiring at age 10 or if they become medically unfit.

 The Backup

The Backup

The Chase Down

The Chase Down

Along with all of the information there was music by Thatz Entertainment, games for the kids, and food and drinks.  Thanks go out to Andy and Anita Bautista, members of the Santee Parks and Recreation Committee (SPARC) and overall “super volunteers” for providing the hot dogs and drinks.

Lenore Ceithaml and Aura

Lenore Ceithaml & Aura

MADD Display Vehicle

MADD Display Vehicle

Display Booths

National Night Out Booths

Santee Fire-Rescue Display

Santee Fire Rescue

Anita and Andy Bautista

Anita & Andy Bautista

Domestic Violence Victims Display

Domestic Violence Victims Display

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The Week Ahead – August 3-9


Let’s see what’s happening this week.

National Night Out: Tuesday evening, August 4, the Santee Sheriff’s Station will be hosting the National Night Out: America’s Night Out Against Crime.  The event will take place at Woodglen Vista Park from 5:00-7:30 pm.  There will be safety information, food (courtesy of SPARC), and much more.  Contact Alyssa Dean, Crime Prevention Specialist, at 619-956-4021 for more information.

Santee Summer Concert Series: Thursday, August 6, the Country band Emerald River will be performing in the Trolley Center amphitheater.  The music starts at 6:30 pm – and let’s try to remember not to take spaces unless you plan to be there the whole time.

Movies by the Lake: Friday night, August 7, the Santee Lakes movie series continues with Hotel for Dogs.  Cost is only $8 per car, and you can start setting up around 6:00 pm for the 8:00 pm movie.

Mission Trails Regional Park: This week there will be several Guided Nature Walks – check the schedule for times.  The next Twilight Walk will be on Saturday, August 15.

Fashion Rocks the East: On Sunday, August 9, the Miss Santee and Miss La Mesa Pageants will hold a fund raiser to benefit their scholarship programs.  You can also read about it an earlier post.

Santee Family Optometry Grand Opening: Wednesday, August 5, Irene Gendelman, O.D., will cut the ribbon at the official grand opening of her optometry office, located in the Marketplace at Santee near Henry’s.  The ceremony kicks off at 5:00 pm.

As always, if you know about something coming up that you think others should know about, tell me and I’ll get it on the list.


Canyon View Christian Fellowship is hosting a community night with BBQ, movie, and music on Friday, August 7, starting at 5:00 pm.  Canyon View is located at 8824 Cottonwood Street.

Frubble will be hosting two concerts this week – the first on Friday, August 7, from 7:00-9:00 pm features the group Jack City Blues Band (some of you may remember them from the Relay for Life last April).  Saturday, August 8, the Gospel Review Vocal Band performs from 7:00-9:00 pm.


Filed under Community, Crime Watch, Entertainment

National Night Out 2009

America’s Night Out Against Crime

The Santee Sheriff’s Station will be hosting the National Night Out event on Tuesday, August 4, from 5:00-7:30 pm at Woodglen Vista Park. They will have information about MADD, 9-1-1, fire prevention, drug prevention, and dealing with bullying, domestic violence, and crime.  There will also be fun activities for kids, SPARC will have hot dogs and chips, Shred-It will be there to dispose of your unwanted documents, and Farmers Insurance will have digital ID kits.

For more information, contact Alyssa Dean, Crime Prevention Specialist, at 619-956-4021.

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Crime Watch – News on Child Molestation Case

A report just came out that Jared Yaffe, the main suspect in the baby sitter molestation case, has been caught in Brazil, of all places.  According to the report, he was captured on Monday and returned to the U.S. on Tuesday.  He will be arraigned in San Diego on 17 counts of child sexual assault and kidnapping.  I would expect other charges, since he is also accused of child pornography.

This makes two down, and possibly one to go.  Police are still looking for a man named “Nick” who may also have been involved.  I posted an earlier story, including a picture of Nick, back in February – you can access it here.

For a more detailed article, check out these stories:

NBC 7/39 News

10 News

San Diego Union-Tribune

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Crime Watch – Arson

Two cars along Carlton Oaks Drive were totally destroyed and two others damaged by arson fires early Sunday morning.  The incident happened around 2:30 am near the intersection of Pike Rd, just down the road from Carlton Hills School.  Another arson fire occurred last month, on March 3, when someone started a fire in the baby’s clothing section of the Old Navy store.  This incident happened around 6:45 pm.  If you have any information about either of these fires, you can contact the Sheriff’s Department at 858-565-5200.

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Crime Watch – Child Molestation Update

New Suspect in Child Molestation Case

New Suspect in Child Molestation Case


On Wednesday police issued an update on the child molestation/child pornography case I posted earlier.  There is a new suspect being sought – a second babysitter who may have also provided children to Jared Yaffe for molestation/pornography purposes.  He is known only by the name “Nick” and is possibly around 18 years old, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, and with a slim build.  Meanwhile, Jared Yaffe is still at large.  If you have any information about Yaffe or “Nick” please contact San Diego Police or CrimeStoppers.

San Diego Police: 619-531-2000

San Diego County CrimeStoppers: 888-580-8477 or email

You can also Send an Anonymous Tip

San Diego Union-Tribune




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