Category Archives: Crime

8 Break-ins Downtown, 1 Pedestrian Killed, Streetlights Needed More than Ever

Eight businesses were broken into in Downtown Mojave during the week of December 15th, including the Water Department, Keiff & Sons Ford, Union Pacific, Stokens Donuts and El Jeffe Restaurant. Also, in November a mother of four was killed by a vehicle while crossing Highway 14 near Stater Bros, which marks the fourth pedestrian to be killed in Mojave in a year. The driver could not see the woman crossing the highway in the dark at 6pm, according to the Kern County Sheriff’s Office.

Residents lament at the chronic loss of life and property in Mojave. “Nobody is going to open a business or buy a house here as long as there is a reasonable expectation of getting broken into”, says Mojave Foundation Executive Director, Todd Quelet. “Our kids are getting killed in the streets… it’s our priority health and safety issue” (referring to the tragic November 2013 killing of a local school girl while crossing Highway 58).

The Mojave Foundation has a plan to increase the available lighting downtown by installing streetlights in high crime/pedestrian areas. We have arranged a deal with Southern California Edison (SCE) to install a streetlamp and pole for existing customers for only $15 per month (provided the customer sign a 3-year contract and pay the first year upfront, which amounts to approximately $180).

Mojave at NightThe problem is that Kern County will not allow us to shine those lights in the street due to a $30,000 debt that Kern County owes to SCE, which prevents us from installing anything in the County’s right-of-way. The $30,000 debt stems from about 3 years ago when Mojave property owners were asked whether they would accept an $8 annual increase in their property taxes to keep approximately 220 streetlights in Mojave. The parcel tax measure was voted down overwhelmingly, mostly attributed Kern County officials say, by the preponderance of property owners who live outside Mojave (80 percent, according to Kern County Assessors office records). When the parcel tax measure failed Kern County submitted a work order with SCE to remove over half the lights from Mojave, but it took SCE six months to execute the work order. Meanwhile Kern County stopped paying for the lights targeted for removal and accrued the $30,000 debt, which now prevents residents from purchasing their own municipal lights.

Mojave at Night with LightsThe Mojave Foundation is determined not to let this problem prevent us from keeping our children and businesses and residents safe. We have raised enough money thus far to double the current amount of streetlights in Mojave, and we will keep working with local residents and businesses to solve this problem at the grass-roots level if necessary. We will also keep working with SCE and Kern County to resolve this debt issue so that we can restore the municipal lights that were removed three years ago, and install a closed circuit surveillance system in the downtown area for businesses who want it.

We encourage all businesses, church leaders, and residents – former and current – to weigh in on this issue. Contact Kern County and request that they resolve their debt with SCE so we can take responsibility for our own streets. You can also make a charitable donation on this website. Right now we can install a streetlight at the municipal or individual level for about $200. As always, your donation is tax-deductible, and 100% goes directly into the project, not for overhead or unrelated expenses. If you have any questions, contact Todd Quelet at Todd@MojaveFoundation.org

New Neighborhood Watch Signs are Up!

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Brand new sign 

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Weathered sign at M and Inyo streets

Debbie Crocoll from Mojave’s Neighborhood Watch group was happy to annouce that the vandalized, sun-faded, weathered and worn Neighborhood Watch signs at M and Inyo streets and also at L and Cerro Gordo streets were replaced by Mojave Foundation volunteer Leon Ryder early this week. The new signs look great!

Contact Debbie if you would like to order an extra large (18″X 24″) Neighborhood Watch sign for $28.00 including shipping and tax.
Thank you again, Leon Ryder for your continued dedication to helping keep Mojave SAFE and BEAUTIFUL!
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Coin Wash Reopened!

Coin Wash MikeMay 7: The Mojave Coin wash is now open again, and the burglar has been identified by the Kern County Sheriff’s Office. The Coin Wash has been closed since April 7th when a burglar destroyed several coin dispensers and washers and stole several hundred dollars of quarters. The Coin Wash is now under a new management, and open longer hours. The new manager, Michael Smoot, a long-time Mojave resident, is leading a new generation of young Entrepreneurs in Mojave. Mr. Smoot, 32, spent the last two weeks repairing the damaged equipment in the building and restoring previously broken dryers to accommodate more customers than ever before. Mr. Smoot will also be on site at all times to ensure that all customers have a safe and pleasant experience, and to guard against future vandals.

Coin Wash MamabearThe community has universally rejoiced at the return of the coin wash. “I am so happy to have the Coin Wash back” said local resident, Ethel Brooks, “One man came in on Monday when they first reopened and did what looked like three weeks of laundry! We’re going to keep Mike on FULL TIME!” Other residents rejoiced in the restored sense of pride. “I had to have somebody else to wash my clothes, it was embarrassing” said long-time resident Mama-Bear, “I want to wash my own clothes, thank you very much!”

The Mojave Foundation applauds Mr. Smoot for being the first of a new generation of entrepreneurs in Mojave, and restoring a critical service to the community. We also commend the local shopkeepers and residents who identified the suspected burglar to the Kern County Sheriff’s.

Graffiti Removal in Full Swing

Graffiti - ShastaApril 18: Kern County General Services was in Mojave to provide free paint, brushes and supplies to the Mojave Foundation, and to support the grass-roots efforts that have sprung up in recent weeks all over town. Facilities and Maintenance Manager, Carl Brewer, and Warehouse Manager, Karl Hunt presented the materials to the Foundation, and discussed our main graffiti priorities. But the highlight of the day came when Jay used his power sprayer attached to his truck to erase some of the largest graffiti in a matter of seconds. “The hardest part is cleaning the hoses at the end of the day” says Jay, a retired Maintenance manager from Apple Valley. “It takes longer for me to write up the paperwork.”

Graffiti - L StKern County General Services can remove most graffiti upon receiving a request from the property owner. Any resident can request to have the graffiti removed, but must first have the property owner sign a consent form (also available in Spanish). General Services is usually in Mojave several times per month, and can usually match the color of the paint fairly closely. Residents can mail the completed consent form to 610 E 18th St, Bakersfield, CA 93305, or take a picture of the completed form on their phone and email the form to Leon@MojaveFoundation.org.

Leon & PaintThe recent momentum behind graffiti removal in Mojave was due to the initiative of a local resident, Leon Ryder, a retired school teacher, who took it upon himself to tackle some of the worst graffiti in his neighborhood – on his own time, using his own paint. Leon sparked a miniature revolution in Mojave, and has inspired a myriad of other residents and business owners to do the same. The Mojave Foundation is proud to partner with Leon, and excited about recent donations of paint from Kern County and other local residents.

We also appreciate the support from Kern County General Services and recognize that dollar-for-dollar, Graffiti Removal is one of the best ways to reduce crime and increase public safety. Removing graffiti sends a message to gangs and vagrants that the residents take pride in our community, and we think there is a direct correlation between clean streets and safe streets. We look forward to partnering with Kern County General Services, where The Foundation can eliminate highly visible graffiti quickly and efficiently, while coordinating with the county to knock out larger jobs more efficiently. We are also looking for volunteers to help with graffiti removal, clean-ups, and a door-to-door campaign to collect pre-approved consent forms from property owners. To help out, please see our VOLUNTEER page.

Coin Wash Burglarized – Closed Until Caught

CoinWash Male Tatoo neckApril 14: The Mojave Coin wash was burglarized twice last week – once on Saturday April 5th, and again on Monday April 7th, and will be closed until the suspect is brought to justice. Both burglaries were carried out by the same male pictured here, as captured by surveillance video, and occurred in broad daylight around 11:30 a.m. The suspect was seen on video beating the coin dispenser with a crow bar for about 17 minutes on Saturday, stealing approximately $245 worth of coins. The suspect returned again on Monday and continued to beat one of the washer machines late in the morning until it yielded $160 worth of coins.

CoinWash Male Tatoo armThe suspect appears in the surveillance video to have light or Caucasian skin, in his 20s, shaved head or buzz cut, muscular build, and tattoos on his forearms, hands and neck. He was wearing a light blue polo shirt with black horizontal stripes and sun glasses over his head, and changed into a white long-sleeved shirt, and again into a black hoodie. During the burglary he carried a reddish backpack with plaid pattern, buttoned in the front. The suspect was also seen interacting with passers-by outside the store and is believed to either live in Mojave, or at least know people who live in Mojave.

CoinWash Female+BackpackThe suspect also had some help. There was a female in the coin wash acting as a lookout. She is described as being Caucasian, in her 20s, with red hair, thin, and wearing a pink-ish shirt with a floral pattern. There was also a secondary lookout stationed outside the Coin Wash, who was either African-American or Hispanic, on a bicycle, in dark clothing.

CoinWash Male Black Hoodie

The Coin Wash, a Mojave landmark, will be closed until the suspects are caught. The owner of the Coin Wash and Mojave Chamber of Commerce are offering a $1500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any of these individuals. Residents are asked to contact the Sheriff with any information at 661-824-7130, or the owner of the Coin Wash, Christy, at 661-803-7982.

The Mojave Foundation takes this theft personally, and considers it an assault on our residents who rely on this coin wash for their children and families, and our businesses who have invested in our community. We will work tirelessly to bring these suspects to justice, and encourage all residents to volunteer with our local Sheriff’s office through in our Citizen Service Unit (CSU). We are also fundraising for a community surveillance system and street lights centered on the intersection of K Street and Inyo. Anyone interested in supporting our efforts can make a tax-deductible donation on our website, or click here to fill out an application for CSU.