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San Diego sheriff’s deputies believe they've thwarted a growing homeless population occupying the wooded areas that neighbor the Rancho San Diego Towne Center on Jamacha Boulevard. According to Deputy Albert Carrillo, the transients were likely linked to a spike in crimes, which ranged from trespassing to commercial, residential, and vehicle burglaries.

Law enforcement and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service began patrolling five sites — many of which are restricted — because they were being used by transients for camping. The areas included the wooded areas behind Staples, the YMCA, and the historic steel bridge on Campo Road. The homeless “disturbed area wildlife and have been destructive to the watershed,” said Carrillo. Inmate work crews removed large amounts of trash and brush from the areas and law enforcement posted trespass notices.

Carrillo said the transient population includes mostly 35- to 65-year-old males and females who grew up in the Spring Valley, Jamul, and Rancho San Diego areas. He said they have likely been living the transient life for years and were not there due to a loss of job or their home.

Transients were warned of the sweep that took place on July 31. On that morning, none of the homeless were to be found. “I would like to think they have located housing, but most of the time people locate another area out of view,” said Carrillo. “There has been a definite decline of crime in the areas closest to where the transients were living.”

Because there is a possibility the homeless will return to the area, Carrillo said the deputies and other governing agencies will continue their efforts to keep them from coming back.

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