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Updated: 13 Arrested in 'Chicken Ranch' Burglary Ring Bust

Ramona Sheriff's Detectives conducted a two month investigation and seized drugs, explosives, cash and $44,000 in stolen property Tuesday morning on San Vicente Road.

Updated: 13 Arrested in 'Chicken Ranch' Burglary Ring Bust Updated: 13 Arrested in 'Chicken Ranch' Burglary Ring Bust

Updated at 3:45 p.m. on Feb. 6

Ex-con Mark Jeffrey Ertman, of Ramona, was behind bars today on suspicion of taking part in a burglary ring that targeted numerous victims, including local Girl Scouts, in recent months, sheriff's officials reported.

Ertman, 56, was arrested Tuesday morning at his home, dubbed the "Chicken Ranch" at 2411 San Vicente Rd., Sgt. Bill Hout said.

Ertman's property allegedly served as a place for a group of East County thieves to conceal $44,000 worth of stolen property, including firearms and vehicles, and try to render them untraceable, according to Hout.

According to the Sheriff's Department, the burglary ring is believed to be responsible for more than 20 "hot prowl" burglaries over the last year. The burglaries ranged from early morning residential to commercial burglaries targeting the Girl Scouts of America.

The arrest culminated a two-month investigation during which authorities arrested 13 people on criminal charges and seized methamphetamine, $8,000 in cash and the stolen property, including explosives, authorities said..

Most of the crimes involved storage sheds and garages left open, unlocked or unsupervised, providing easy access for the bandits, who mostly stole power tools, Lt. James Bovet said. Two of the burglaries took place at Camp Winacka, a Girl Scout wilderness retreat in Julian, last June and August, according to Bovet.

There, the thieves made off with chainsaws, a leaf blower, weed trimmer, generator, golf cart and fuel can with gasoline in it.

The monetary losses totaled more than $13,000, the lieutenant said.

The Chicken Ranch was used by the perpetrators to store and alter the stolen goods, removing serial numbers and other identifying features so they could sell the items at swap meets and through online classified ads with less risk, according to Bovet.

Authorities said Ertman was booked into the San Diego County Jail for possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen vehicle, and possession of a firearm.

He was being held in lieu of $180,000 bail pending arraignment, scheduled for Thursday afternoon.

—City News Service contributed to this report

Original Story

After a two month investigation, Ramona Sheriff's Detectives say they made 13 arrests and seized $44,000 in stolen property, firearms, explosives, stolen vehicles and drugs after serving a search warrant to Mark Ertman early Tuesday morning.

The Sheriff's Department says the property that sits at 2411 San Vicente Rd., known as the "Chicken Ranch," was used by a burglary ring operating in East County to both "conceal and dismantle stolen property."

According to a press release, the ring is believed to be responsible for more than 20 "hot prowl" burglaries over the last year. The burglaries ranged from early morning residential to commercial burglaries targeting the Girl Scouts of America, the department said.

Tuesday's 6:15 a.m. search warrant was the conclusion of a two month investigation. Detectives seized methamphetamine for sale and $8,000 in cash, in addition to the $44,000 in stolen property, according to the Sheriff's Department.

Authorities said Ertman was booked into the San Diego County Jail for possession of stolen property, possession of a stolen vehicle, and possession of a firearm.

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