Category Archives: News and Notes

Warning regarding virtual kidnapping scams

by the Ventura Police Department

The Ventura Police Department has seen an increase in “virtual kidnapping” extortion calls in the City of Ventura. There have been multiple reported incidents targeting Spanish speakers. These extortion schemes are particularly alarming in nature because a scammer contacts the victim via telephone and demands payment for the return of a “kidnapped” family member or loved one. While no actual kidnapping has taken place, the callers often use co-conspirators to convince their victims of the legitimacy of the threat. For example, a caller might attempt to convince a victim that his daughter was kidnapped by having a young female scream for help in the background during the call.

Scammers sometimes represent themselves as members of a drug cartel from Mexico targeting victims with family in Mexico. They will typically provide the victim with specific instructions to ensure the safe “return” of the alleged kidnapped individual. These instructions usually involve demands of a ransom payment and instructions usually require the ransom payment to be made immediately and most often by wire transfer or prepaid cards. These schemes involve varying amounts of ransom demands. In one case an amount was paid by the victim and the scammer later called again demanding a higher payment.

Most schemes use various techniques to instill a sense of fear, panic and urgency in an effort to rush the victim into making a very haste decision. The criminal’s success depends on this general urgency and fear. They know they only have a short time to exact a ransom payment before the victim and their families determine it is a scam or authorities become involved.

Criminals often use social media to gather information and track their potential victims. The Ventura Police Department would like to remind the community to be cautious of the amount of personal information posted on social media.

To avoid becoming a victim, look for these possible scam indicators:

  • Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone, insisting you remain on the line. Calls do not come from the victim’s phone.
  • Callers try to prevent you from contacting the “kidnapped” victim. Multiple excessive phone calls.
    Incoming calls made from an outside area code.
  • Demands for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer, not in person.

Due to an increased frequency of phone scams, if you receive a phone call from someone demanding a ransom for an alleged kidnap victim and you suspect it is a scam, the following course of action should be considered:

  • Hang up the phone.
  • Immediately contact family members. Notify the Ventura Police Department.
  • Report to the FBI Los Angeles Office at 310-477-6565 or submit an anonymous tip at online.

Property tax relief is on the way for Thomas Fire victims

Ventura County Assessor Dan Goodwin, Auditor Controller Jeff Burgh, and Treasurer-Tax Collector Steven Hintz have announced that reduced property tax bills or refunds will begin being mailed to fire victims. Staff from all three departments have been attending post-fire community meetings to answer questions, and appraisers have already inspected more than 3,000 properties.

The reduced bills or refunds of taxes previously paid are for Ventura County taxpayers whose Calamity Claims for property tax relief for property losses resulting from the Thomas Fire have been approved. The first batch of revised bills is scheduled to be mailed on this week. The bills will be mailed to the address submitted on the Calamity Claim form. Refunds will be made to the person who actually made the original payment.

“This is another example of how County agencies are working collaboratively to assist city and county residents who were affected by the Thomas Fire,” said County Executive Officer Mike Powers. “Dan, Jeff and Steven promised taxpayers relief from this disaster on December 7, just three days after the fire started. And now, that relief is already arriving. This is an extraordinary effort and a thoughtful demonstration of how local government can respond to the urgent needs of its constituents.”

For more information, contact:

Steven Hintz, Treasurer-Tax Collector, 654-3744

Dan Goodwin, Assessor, 654-2181

Jeff Burgh, Auditor-Controller, 654-3152

American Red Cross of Ventura County

During Red Cross Month in March, the American Red Cross encourages eligible donors to join in its lifesaving mission by giving blood.

Since 1943, every U.S. president has designated March as Red Cross Month to recognize how the Red Cross helps people across the country and around the world. Red Cross Month is a celebration of supporters, who are the face of the Red Cross in their communities and bring hope to people facing emergencies.

The Red Cross depends on blood donor heroes across the nation to collect enough blood to meet the needs of patients at approximately 2,600 hospitals nationwide. Donors of all blood types, especially type O, are needed to help those rely on blood products.

Make an appointment to become a hero to patients in need by downloading the free Red Cross Blood Donor App, visiting or calling 1-800-RED CROSS (1-800-733-2767).

Blood donation in Ventura March 3 8:15 a.m. – 2:15 p.m., Ventura High School, 2 North Catalina.

Another way to support the lifesaving mission of the American Red Cross is to become a volunteer transportation specialist and deliver lifesaving blood products to local area hospitals. Volunteer transportation specialists play a very important role in ensuring an ample blood supply for patients in need by transporting blood and blood products. For more information and to apply for a volunteer transportation specialist position, visit

The American Red Cross shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters; supplies about 40 percent of the nation’s blood; teaches skills that save lives; provides international humanitarian aid; and supports military members and their families. The Red Cross is a not-for-profit organization that depends on volunteers and the generosity of the American public to perform its mission. For more information, please visit or, or visit us on Twitter at @RedCross.

The American Red Cross of Ventura County announces the kickoff of its third annual Operation: Ride for the Red cycling event. The ride will take place on Saturday, May 19, and all proceeds will support the organization, which helps members of the military, veterans, and their families prepare for, cope with and respond to the challenges of military service.

There will be three rides going through Ventura County. Each registered rider will receive a rider bag with several free items. All active and retired veterans will ride for free.

Event participants are also encouraged to reach out to friends, family and supporters to help raise additional funds for the Red Cross Service to the Armed Forces (SAF) program.

The Red Cross is able to help local military families thanks to the generosity of donors who support the SAF program. This year’s Operation: Ride for Red sponsors include California Resources Corporation (CRC), Wells Fargo, Premier America Credit Union, and Capital Insurance Group (CIG), in addition to many generous in-kind donors.

Operation: Ride for the Red was created by passionate, local volunteers eager to share the story and history of the Red Cross SAF program. Since 9/11, the Red Cross has served more than one million military families, and it is the only military service organization that supports military families from the day they enlist through their time as a veteran.

Register to ride, make a donation, or learn more about sponsorship opportunities at

Habitat for Humanity ReStore offers $200 vouchers

Habitat for Humanity’s ReStore in Oxnard is offering vouchers valued at $200 to households that lost their home in recent wildfires. The ReStore is a discount home improvement store selling furniture, building supplies and appliances with all proceeds supporting Habitat’s mission to build homes, communities and hope.

To claim your voucher, please visit the Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County office at 1850 Eastman Ave., Oxnard. Families must be registered at before they receive their voucher.

This support is made possible from a $5,000 grant from the Ventura County Community Foundation thanks to the generosity of local philanthropists.

Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County is a locally-run and locally-funded affiliate of Habitat for Humanity International. Over the past 33 years, 65 new home builds have provided homeownership opportunities for families in need and hundreds of homes have been repaired, providing a safe, decent living environment for low income homeowners. The Preserve a Home program partners with low-income homeowners to improve their living conditions through home repairs. At Habitat for Humanity, we believe that everyone, everywhere deserves a decent place to live. For Habitat’s new home program, low income families are selected based on their need for housing, ability to repay an affordable mortgage, and willingness to partner with Habitat for Humanity. We offer a “hand up,” empowering families who are willing to work hard to achieve their dream of homeownership. Each Habitat for Humanity homeowner invests hundreds of hours to help build their home, and then purchases it with an affordable mortgage. Habitat currently has enough donated properties to build 30 decent homes for families in Ventura County. For more information about Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County, visit or call 485-6065, x 101.

First responders to serve as Grand Marshal of St. Patrick’s Day Parade

Ventura County’s 30th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade will honor the men and women who heroically battled the devastating Thomas Fire, and those who assisted the fire victims.

First responders will serve as grand marshal of the parade, which begins at 10 a.m. Saturday, March 17, in front of Mission San Buenaventura on East Main Street in Ventura. The theme is “Ventura Strong.”

“We are proud to have as our grand marshal those brave men and women who were the first responders,” said Jim Monahan, co-chair of the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee. “We hope the whole county will come out on St. Patrick’s Day to say thanks by lining Main Street with thank-you signs.”

“This was a truly devastating event, to our entire community and beyond,” said Monahan. “In addition to the two deaths, so many residents of Ventura and Santa Barbara counties lost everything they own. In Ventura alone, more than 500 structures were destroyed. And yet we know, it could have been much worse. We can’t give enough thanks to those who fought back this crushing fire.”

The parade will honor the multi-agency response from, among others, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE), the Ventura County Fire Department, the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office, the City of Ventura Fire Department and the Ventura Police Department.

Last year’s parade drew over 90 entries, including floats sponsored by civic groups, nonprofits and local businesses and restaurants; marching bands; car clubs; horses; and clowns.

The Ventura County St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which ends at Ash Street, is presented by the Ventura Elks Lodge No. 1430. The event’s committee is accepting entries for this year’s parade. For entry forms or more information, visit, contact Jim Monahan at or 643-4275, or email Nan Drake at

California Supreme Court rules in favor of United Water vs. City of Ventura

In a precedent-setting decision last December, the California Supreme Court upheld a 2015 Court of Appeal ruling, declaring United Water Conservation District’s groundwater pumping charges are not subject to Proposition 218 as was asserted by the City of Ventura.

On Feb.25, the California Supreme Court again voiced its support of United Water in this case, denying the City of Ventura request for a rehearing of the December decision and ratifying that United Water’s pumping charges must only be fair or reasonable in light of the burdens imposed or benefits received by the City of Ventura from its groundwater pumping.

“United Water Conservation District is gratified by this latest opinion of California’s highest court. Their decision will guide the Court of Appeal in determining whether the District’s pumping charges were fair or reasonable, and confirms that our basic operating principles are correct,” commented Robert Eranio, Board President, United Water Conservation District.

In 2013, a trial court ruled in favor of the City of Ventura on the matter, saying that United Water’s process for charging pumpers did not satisfy Proposition 218 and was therefore incorrect.

United Water appealed that trial court decision to the Court of Appeal in late 2013 and won, thus overturning the trial court. The City of Ventura appealed that ruling to the California Supreme Court in 2015, losing round one in the highest court last December, and now also round two.

“We are looking forward to working with the City of Ventura on important water resource issues including returning to the Court of Appeal to resolve one lingering question regarding charges. The collaboration of our two agencies on regional water projects is vital to Ventura County. We are ready to open up that dialogue and achieve these goals,” commented Mauricio Guardado, General Manager, United Water Conservation District.

Suspected rapist dies of self-inflicted poisoning

Both sides of the 101 Freeway were initially shut down.

On February 21, at approximately 7:30 a .m., CHP was notified by the Los Angeles Police

Department of a possible rape suspect in the Oxnard area. The incident began when a check of a vehicle in Oxnard came back with information that the car belonged to the rape suspect, believed to be a 35-year-old man from Camarillo.

At 7:35 a.m., CHP units located the suspected vehicle, a black Nissan Versa going northbound on US 101 at Vineyard Ave. CHP units initiated an enforcement stop on this vehicle at Oxnard Blvd. The Nissan failed to yield and continued northbound on US 101.

While still driving northbound CHP Officers observed the vehicle begin to yield to the right shoulder on the US 101 and then began drifting to the left, across all lanes of traffic and came to a stop in the center median, north of Seaward Ave.

At some point during the pursuit, officers believe the suspect began to drink some sort of liquid which turned out to be poison. The Officers located the male, inside his vehicle, deceased from an apparent self-inflicted poisoning. The substance that the suspect ingested was tested by the Ventura Fire Department’s Hazmat team and was determined to be a mixture of sodium chloride and potassium cyanide.

Authorities initially said shots were fired, but CHP officials now say no shots were fired.

The suspect was seen motionless outside of the vehicle before the coroner removed the body from the scene. The passenger-side glass was shattered by officers who removed the suspect from the car.

Both sides of the 101 Freeway were initially shut down from Sanjon Road to Seaward Avenue. One northbound lane and all southbound lanes were reopened a short time later. The Ventura Police Department aided in the incident.

Mark Lunn named VP of County Recorders’ Association of California

County Clerk-Recorder, Registrar of Voters Mark Lunn took office as the 2018-2019 vice president of the County Recorders’ Association of California. Lunn received the oath of office at the association’s New Law Conference held in Sacramento in December, 2017.

“I am honored to be elected to serve in such a respected organization by my peers,” Lunn stated. Lunn has been an active member of the association since first being elected in 2010. He has served on and chaired various association committees and was previously the organization’s secretary and treasurer.

The members of the Recorders’ Association of California are committed to providing excellent public service, protect the integrity of records and strive for uniformity when performing mandated duties. The purpose of the association is to promote common interests of the membership and respective counties; to maintain professional standards and, through the exchange of information and ideas, stimulate a supportive and cooperative working environment.

The association produces a Document Reference Indexing Manual annually for industry professionals to use as a reference book of laws, legal opinions, and rules governing recording procedures in the State of California.

County Recorders are responsible for filing and maintaining public documents associated with land transactions, vital statistics, and maintaining a cumulative record of all official documents for the county.

Ventura County Grand Jury announces open house

On Thursday, March 15, the Grand Jury will host an open house for prospective jurors and interested members of the Ventura County community. Please join the current Grand Jury along with public officials from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m. in the Grand Jury Chambers at 646 County Square Dr.

An all-volunteer group, the Grand Jury investigates selected complaints that have been initiated by the public. After investigating these complaints, the Grand Jury issues written reports which include facts, conclusions, and recommendations.

Basic requirements to qualify for service are: you must be a citizen of the United States, 18 years of age, a resident of Ventura County for at least one year prior to being seated, and have sufficient knowledge of English to conduct jury business. Basic computer skills are desirable.

All eligible residents of the Ventura County community are encouraged to apply.

Applications are available online at the Grand Jury website, or by calling 477-1600. Applications will be accepted until April 15/2018.

A roadmap to recovery

A local group of building professionals; architects, engineers and contractors have come together and are working closely with the city in developing a roadmap to recovery. They have now organized that information and are sharing it with the affected homeowners through neighborhood workshops. These workshops have a representative from the city and many experienced professionals available to answer questions. The meeting focuses on the rebuilding process and is structured as an interactive forum so as they share information, they also can hear your concerns and experiences helping them become a better resource. They are all volunteers dedicated to providing answers to those in need and demystifying the process of rebuilding.

The information will be beneficial you rebuild or not. You can find upcoming workshops and additional information about the rebuilding effort on