Two-day crackdown on ‘illegal campers’ nets six arrests, citations

Deputies from the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff Station’s Crime Prevention Unit issued warnings ahead of conducting patrol checks that began Friday. Courtesy photo

More than a half-dozen homeless people have been arrested, a few others issued citations, after a pair of operations aimed at removing “illegal campers.”

On Friday, and then again on Monday, a team of deputies with the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff’s Station’s Crime Prevention Unit ventured off-road to carry out a variety of patrol checks.

Since Friday, deputies: arrested two people on felony warrants; four people on misdemeanors; and have issued citations to at least a couple of people, Shirley Miller, spokeswoman for the SCV Sheriff’s Station, said Monday.

She called the operations “different types of patrol checks.”

Crime Prevention Units looked into areas where illegal camping had been reported.

“Deputies want to be kept informed of everyone who is residing in our open spaces,” Miller said.

“We posted a 72-hour notice,” she said, referring to the warning issued to people living or camping illegally in the Santa Clara River wash.

One couple, a man and a woman, have built a makeshift home “set up with different living areas” in the South Fork wash off of Railroad Avenue, north of the Keep It Self Storage and south of Midas.

“They are blocking the storm drains,” Miller said, noting CPU deputies involved in the sweep told the couple Friday to pack up and move out of the wash.

On Monday morning, however, the makeshift home was still standing in the storm drain, Miller said.

“(The homeless man and woman) were still in the process of dismantling,” she said. “They hadn’t taken much out.”

Miller noted that deputies try their best to find accommodation for the homeless people when they’re told to move on.

“They don’t do it to be mean,” Miller said. “They don’t like to see anyone homeless.”

Deputies make an effort, she said, to place people displaced in the sweep at Bridge to Home locally. Bridge to Home has extended its hours of operation until the end of July, beyond the usual closing date at the end of March.

“If there are no (local) beds, there are other shelters. We made arrangements for transportation of these people to shelters,” she said, noting some of the out-of-town shelters are in the San Fernando Valley.

Once contact is made by the off-roading deputies, campers are educated by the deputies about resources and shelters available if they need a dwelling.

Most, according to Miller, say that they already know what is available and are fine living like they are.

“We are very protective of our community and we want to make sure there is not illegal activity going on in our great outdoors,” Miller wrote in a report posted on social media.

“Occasionally, we come across someone with substantial warrants who is trying to hide from justice,” she wrote, adding: “Our job is to enforce the law and hold those not willing to live by the law accountable.”

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