Is your cell phone distracting? Subtract $159
As part of the CHP's National Distracted Driving Awareness Month, Sonoma police wrote at least 30 citations last week for motorists talking on their cell phones while driving.
Sgt. Spencer Crum said that between April 1, when the program started, and April 4, Sonoma officers wrote 20 citations. And by Friday, he thought the number was at least 30.
"It was much easier to find somebody on April 1 than it is today (Friday)," Crum said. "People are getting the message."
Crum said the fine is $25 for the first offense, but court costs and fees push the first-time total to $159. A second ticket costs the driver $50 plus fees and court costs.
The program continues through the month of April. Crum said that the citations are being written during the course of regular patrols, "We're being extra vigilant," he said.
In other incidents reported recently to Valley law enforcement:
Tuesday, March 29:
1:55 a.m. - Another unlocked car: purse gone. A resident in the 700 block of Laurel Avenue reported that she left her purse in her unlocked vehicle and it was now missing. The purse contained credit cards, driver's license and $400 in cash.
9:14 a.m. - Alternative universe? A resident in the 800 block of Indian Lane reported that she had been contacted by the IRS about not reporting wages she had earned working at a K-Mart in Georgia. The resident told the IRS she had never worked for K-Mart and had never been to Georgia.
10:48 a.m. - A beer bust and stolen property. Deputies were sent to the 18600 block of Highway 12 on the report of a suspicious person. The deputies discovered a mini-camp and found that one of its residents was on probation, with the common stipulation that he not consume or possess alcohol. The probationer, Dustin Roat, 29, was found to be in possession of a 32-ounce beer, which alone violated the terms of his probation. But that may be the least of Roat's worries since, while looking through Roat's backpack, deputies also discovered a purse and credit cards belonging to a woman from Novato. To accompany his tall-boy probation violation, Roat was also honored with the felony charge of possessing stolen property. He was booked into county jail.
Wednesday, March 30:
4:54 p.m. - Phantom car-keyer. A resident in the 200 block of Fuente Lane reported that while she was watching her brother's apartment and vehicle, someone keyed the vehicle. Damage was estimated at $400.
Thursday, March 31:
12:13 a.m. - Boyfriend drowns phone in tub. When Sheriff's deputies were sent to a residence in the 17600 block of Highway 12 to investigate a domestic incident, they arrived to find the victim crying and upset. The woman and her boyfriend, they learned, had gotten into an argument during which she tried to leave the residence. The boyfriend reportedly prevented her from trying to leave. She then tried to call 9-1-1, but he grabbed the cell phone and tossed it into the bathtub, which was full of water. Deputies arrested Juan Jose Hernandez, 24, of Sonoma, on charges of domestic battery, injuring a wireless device and felony false imprisonment.
Friday, April 1:
9:58 a.m. - B&G Club tire slashed. The Boys and Girls Clubs of Sonoma Valley, 100 Verano Ave., reported that somebody slashed a tire on the club's van.
1:37 p.m. - Skimmer scam nets $2K on credit card. A Glen Ellen resident reported that someone had used her Chase Visa card number without her permission and had rung up $2,000 worth of charges over a four-day span. She quickly cancelled the card and was not charged for the loss.
The rip-off apparently originated at a Santa Rosa gas station where, police surmised, a card-reading "skimmer" device was attached to the gas pump. Skimmers are designed to fit over the credit card terminal without affecting its function. They then read and store card numbers before being retrieved by the thief. The scam also often employs a tiny camera hidden behind a fake mirror or inside a pump-mounted rack holding promotional forms.
Police warn card users should examine card terminals carefully to be sure they aren't covered with a look-alike skimmer, and they should cover key pads when entering PIN numbers so that hidden cameras can't record the code.
Saturday, April 2:
2:07 a.m. Trash cans trashed by woozy woman. While on foot patrol in the Plaza, Sonoma officers heard garbage cans being knocked over and discovered an intoxicated 23-year-old woman, in the company of other celebrants, who was doing the knocking and tossing the garbage around. When the officers tried to talk with the alcohol-encumbered female, she insisted on yelling. Coaxed into a preliminary breath test to gauge her level of consumption and rational malfunction, she blew a .18. That led to her arrest on a charge of public intoxication and a chauffeured ride to the county jail. Her friends got a cab ride home.
3:49 p.m. - Burglar bags $3K bike. A resident of the 600 block of First Street West reported that someone stole his bicycle - his $3,000 bicycle. The bike, a custom-built GT brand, was stolen sometime between March 28 and April 1 from the man's garage. The heavy duty lock was cut.
4:09 p.m. -Booze in jail is bad idea. A 47-year-old Sonoma woman who had just gotten out of rehab, was arrested after her 19-year-old daughter reported that her mother was drunk and throwing things around the home. A preliminary alcohol screening put the woman's BAC at .19, and she was subsequently charged with habitual drunkenness in front of a child - the woman's 14-year-old daughter. After arresting the woman, an officer asked if she had anything on her person she shouldn't take into jail. The inebriated arrestee offered no indication that she did, but when she was booked, jail personnel found a small bottle of alcohol in her pants. At that point, Michelle Loustalot was charged with felony transporting drugs or alcohol into jail.
Sunday, April 3:
11:12 p.m. - Verbally jousting on drugs. Deputies were sent to a residence in the 18400 block of 1st Avenue in response to a noise complaint. When they arrived, they could hear a loud argument going on in a trailer and soon decided the verbal combatants were behaving as though they might be under the influence of a central nervous system stimulant. After some field tests, the deputies arrested a 25-year-old Sonoma resident on charges of being under the influence of a controlled substance and a probation violation, and a 30-year-old Sonoma resident was charged with being under the influence of a controlled substance.
Monday, April 4:
12:49 a.m. - Driving with a deadly weapon. During a traffic stop at Arnold Drive and Highway 37, a Sheriff's deputy noticed a knife on the floor at the feet of the driver. After removing the driver from the vehicle, deputies found a 4-inch butterfly-style knife. The deputies confiscated the switchblade and cited the driver, a 25-year-old American Canyon resident, on charges of possession of a switchblade.
7:01 p.m. - Another unlocked car, another big loss. A resident in the 800 block of Indian Lane reported that someone had stolen two backpacks from his unlocked car that was parked in the driveway. Among the missing items was a wallet and a laptop. Value of the loss was set at $2,000.
Tuesday, April 5:
9:06 a.m. - Teen thief pockets iPhone. A 15-year-old Sonoma Valley High student was charged with petty theft and knowingly accessing a computer and deleting data. The charges were made after he was found with an iPhone that didn't belong to him. During a meeting with the principal and the teen's mother, the mother reported that she found the iPhone in her son's possession and he couldn't account for how and where he got it.
He initially claimed he bought it from a friend for $100, but when he discovered law enforcement was involved, the teen revised his story and said he found the phone in the Plaza and was hoping to sell it. He also admitted deactivating the settings on the phone, but police connected the device to a computer and recovered the phone number of the owner.
3:48 p.m. - Snack shack generator loss. The snack shack at the Field of Dreams was burglarized sometime between March 26 and April 3. Missing were two portable generators worth $750 each. There was no forced entry.
Wednesday, April 6:
7:23 a.m. - Dude, where's my garbage cans? The El Pueblo Inn reported that sometime between 4 and 5 a.m., someone stole two 32-gallon garbage cans.
12:43 p.m. - Yet another purse in plain view. A woman who parked her car in the marketplace in the 200 block of West Napa Street, reported that she returned to her vehicle to find the back door open and her purse missing. She thought she had locked her vehicle, but had left her purse in plain sight. The purse contained credit cards, a prescription and $22 in cash.
5:16 p.m. - Wallet gone. A woman reported her wallet was missing. She remembered putting her wallet back in her purse after eating lunch at a local restaurant and returning to work. Later, she noticed the wallet was missing.
Thursday, April 7:
9:30 a.m. - Senior viewing theft. A senior housing complex in the 700 block of Oregon Street reported the theft of a TV and a CD player from the clubhouse. There was no forced entry and no value on the missing items.