Placitas resident faces federal charges over booby traps
On December 21, 2003, Sandoval County Sheriff's Office deputies investigated a complaint filed by John Clark and James Dixon of Placitas. Clark and Dixon had reported that while riding mountain bikes in the National Forest south of SR 165 below the S-curves, they encountered longtime Placitas resident Michael Delongchamp walking his dogs near a trail that they said had been booby-trapped.
They said that when they stopped to ask Delongchamp if he was the one that was placing booby traps on the trail, he admitted that he and several other individuals had put wire across the trail, but denied involvement with booby-tapping the trail with a board full of nails or digging a hole and covering it with a blanket and earth.
Dixon and Clarke said that over the last year and a half, the traps had become more dangerous, escalating from rocks and cactus placed at blind curves to devices designed to seriously injure bike riders. They said that when Delongchamp became confrontational, they were going to call law enforcement.
At this point, they stated, Delongchamp changed his story and claimed that he had little to do with the traps and that he was only interested in protecting the land. He left the scene before deputies arrived.
Many area residents object passionately to the environmental damage that has dramatically increased over recent years in the network of trails and threatens the integrity of what is considered a premier example of ungrazed grassland in the Southwest. They feel that some mountain bikers treat their favorite hiking area as an obstacle course, with little regard for the damage that is done.
On March 4, investigators with the U.S. Forest Service arrested Delongchamp on charges of placing hazardous or injurious devices on federal land. According to the criminal complaint, Delongchamp placed booby traps in the national forest, one of which injured a mountain biker with a one-eighth-inch steel cable stretched across the trail. If convicted, Delongchamp faces up to twenty years in prison and a fine. He has pleaded innocent to the charges.
Hasty thieves abandon loot
Sometime between September 17, 2003 and January 15, 2004, thieves broke into a home while the owners were away on vacation in Cochiti Lake and carried a 180-pound safe out of the house. The thieves, unable to open the safe and frustrated, threw the safe into a ravine. The safe wedged under a piñon tree and on impact, popped open and scattered the contents, approximately 46 thousand dollars in jewelry, cash, gold coins, passports and miscellaneous papers around the area.
Fortunately for the owners of the Cochiti Lake home, an honest citizen walking his dog on March 14 discovered the safe and called Sandoval County detectives. Following recovery of the stolen property, the owners were contacted for positive identification and the property was itemized, photographed, and returned to the rightful owners. There are two or three items still missing, so Sandoval County detectives will process the area with a metal detector, hoping to locate the rest of the stolen goods. This is considered an open and ongoing investigation and if anyone has information concerning this case, please call 867-7517.
News from the sheriff’s office
In February 2004 the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office began investigating suspected violations of the New Mexico Sex Offender Registration Act. Subsequently, sheriff’s detectives were able to establish numerous violations, essentially for failing to reregister on a yearly basis and failing to notify the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office of their address change within the same county or to another county.
Bernalillo County sheriff’s detectives are assisting in locating and arresting those in violation, and arrest warrants have been issued. Sheriff Trujillo has a no-tolerance policy to violations of the New Mexico Sex Offenders Registration Act and will continue to be proactive in protecting our communities from sex offenders. Offenders who willfully fail to comply with the registration requirements will be actively investigated by the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office and held accountable.
The Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office has a new Web site full of information and links to programs such as the Kasey Says reading and safety program, Drug Abuse Resistance Education, victim assistance, and animal control. The sheriff’s office also feels people may find it useful to report crime tips anonymously. To access the Web site, visit www.sandovalcounty.com and click on the Sheriff button.
Garden club assists in correct placement of house numbers
PVFB Community Liaison
All residences in the Placitas area have been assigned address numbers by either the county fire marshall (if you have lived in the area for a number of years) or the Sandoval County Planning and Zoning Department. These numbers are to be displayed on a reflective sign, usually white with a red background, and placed in a location visible from the street. This assists emergency personnel in locating your house quickly and efficiently.
Some individuals have avoided the reflective signs and instead have their address numbers displayed on wrought iron, wood, tiles, or other numbering mediums that they feel are more pleasing to the eye and match their exterior decor. Unfortunately, these address numbers often are difficult or impossible to see in the middle of the night. Even some of those who diligently placed the reflective numbers next to their driveway have not maintained them: some of the numbers have faded or fallen off.
Los Jardineros de Placitas (the Placitas Garden Club), has graciously accepted a project to help the Placitas Fire Brigade and community by assisting home owners in correctly securing and placing their address numbers. The garden club is working with county planning and zoning personnel and will be contacting homeowners in the near future to get the required signs in place.
The Placitas Volunteer Fire Brigade typically responds to over three hundred fire and rescue calls each year. We are all aware of the distance to the nearest hospital. Because we live in a rural area, getting emergency response vehicles to your home is critical. Time is a priority when we are responding to trouble breathing, allergic reaction, or an injury. Furthermore, the quicker we can react to a fire, the greater the possibility that we can minimize the damage. Proper and accurate signs are crucial to this process. We urge all residents who may be contacted by a member of the garden club to cooperate to the fullest. It is definitely in your own best interest to do so.