Security Chief Jeff Werblun talks with Kiwanis members after Thursday's meeting. Click for larger image.
Misperceptions about Security’s role, crime incidents in the community and an occasional glitch in the new gate software were among the topics covered by Security Chief Jeff Werblun, speaking at the Kiwanis Club Thursday morning. About 30 members were on hand. Here’s a look at his 40 minutes of presentation and Q and A.
Crime in the community
Werblun said most crimes in the community are traced back to residents, their family members or authorized guests. “We don’t have trespassers. We don’t have people sneaking over the walls or the fences or wandering in,” he said. “...People come through the gate legitimately, but once they’re in, they’re not legitimate.”
He said the common denominator in the community’s crimes is unlocked doors. “You’re making it easy,” he said of recent incidents of stolen cars and garage thefts. “Every one of those cars was unlocked,” he said. “The locked cars were not touched. And all they do is go down the street pulling door handles and like, ‘Oh, look what I found.’ ... People are leaving valuables in their cars on top of them being unlocked. The two vehicles that were stolen, the keys were in the car. One was unlocked, one was locked, but then the key was in it,” he said. “The golf carts same thing. Garage doors were left open all night, and the keys were in the golf carts. (The resident) comes out in the morning and the golf cart’s gone. The golf carts were abandoned a few blocks down the street and they got it back.”
He added later, “Is Rancho Murieta safe? Absolutely! ... You are always going to have theft. As long as you have human beings, people are going to steal. ... You’re always going to have vandalism, people doing stupid things. ... But what you don’t have is major crime. ... You don’t have houses getting broken into; you have houses getting walked into because the doors are open.”
He spoke of “9 p.m. Lockup,” a program being promoted nationally by police departments. “Basically it’s: ‘Hey, it’s 9 p.m. Go lock it up.’ Before you go to bed, make sure your cars are locked, your doors are locked, your valuables are put away.” He endorsed the arrival of Neighborhood Watch, which the Sheriff’s Department plans to bring to the community Sept. 22.
“Our authority, by code, is essentially the same as the regular security guard you would see at the shopping center," he said. Security’s officers are required to be licensed by the state and to have attained Peace Officer Standards and Training certification. “So we’re well above basic security guard standards and training – just to apply for the job,” he said, adding that all but one of the current officers have attended police academies.
“We are here to protect lives and property. That’s our number one goal. ... Everything else that doesn’t threaten somebody immediately, they want us to be the best witness we can and to call law enforcement....”
Despite the “observe and report” limitations of Security’s role, Werblun asked, “Will our officers stand by and let somebody get hurt? Absolutely not.” He spoke of an incident last summer in which a man was swinging a machete threateningly at the gas station. “'Observe and report' or do something?" Werblun said. "Well, the patrol officer who was on duty went over there and did something. We are not going to let (the suspect) whack somebody with a machete while we stand by and ‘observe and report.’”
Dealing with injured wildlife
In response to a Cal-OSHA violation, this year the CSD board ended the decades-old practice of having Security address wild animals and corral runaway pets in the community. “We’re not trained or equipped to do it,” Werblun said in response to a question. “If there’s an injured deer on the road, our alternative was to wait for Animal Control who would then put it down or we would just put it down.” Animal Control will handle that now, he said. “It may take them a while to get out here, but they will.” If there’s a rattlesnake in your garage, there are snake wranglers you can call. (Security has the numbers.) “Other than that, get a shovel, like everybody else does,” he said.
Gate software problems
Carl Gaither was one of two people reporting a problem with gateaccess.net, the web-based system used by Security to let residents register visitors through the computer instead of calling the gate. Gaither said he got a notification that “HK” had been admitted to visit his home, but he doesn’t know who “HK” is. When he asked at the gate about it, he was told “HK” is the gate shorthand for “housekeeper,” Gaither said, but his housekeeper comes in under her name, not “HK.” Werblun said gateaccess.net has a glitch, a problem that results in a complaint on his desk every couple of weeks. “Now, the glitch is not letting people in who don’t belong,” Werblun said. He said system notifications – alerting a household that the housekeeper has been admitted – sometimes go to the wrong household. “Nobody’s getting in as a security breach,” he said. He added that Security has been after the gateaccess.net vendor to fix the problem.
Werblun, who started with Rancho Murieta Security as a gate officer in late 2016, was named chief early this year. He has 28 years in law enforcement, 15 years in aviation. “I wanted to be a cop at an early age,” he said. “I graduated from the (police) academy when I was 19 years old. I couldn’t buy my first gun, because I wasn’t 21. My mom had to go to the gun store with me. She had to buy my first gun so I could finish the academy.”