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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 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.

Ashley Jones February 23, 2013 at 03:05 PM
Why is everyone defending Ertman? He dug his own grave. He still is a long-time tweaker & meth dealer, everyone knows it. His tweak is probably buried in the mountainside. How else did he bail out so fast with bail at $180,000? & he's guilty by association for renting out his chicken coups to other guilty tweakers. He may not have stolen the items himself but he obviously did meth trades for him. They popped him again a few days ago unexpectedly with another 10 grand as well, I heard...
Ashley Jones February 23, 2013 at 03:09 PM
**did meth trades for the stolen items. Everyone knows that Mark Ertman sold meth here in Ramona on a large scale since the early 1990s. I am so glad the sheriffs are finally focusing on the real hard drugs that destroy lives. Pot will be legal soon. But the law enforcement treats marijuana offenders just like they are junkies, even when medicinal. Its unfair. But at least they finally got Ertman! Yeah he might do people favors all the time... its easy to when you sell a gram of meth for $60-100 a pop ... so I'm sure yeah he's generous to fr
Ashley Jones February 23, 2013 at 03:12 PM
**generous to friends, but that doesn't mean that his lifestyle or his way of renting out his chicken coups to other tweakers was proper or legal by any means... I mean they have the robberies lined up.. that's why he started being investigated... Poor man Ertman has a heart but he's also a twisted drug addict & hopefully he will get his life straightened out & learn from these events.. he's already getting old though & its not his 1st rodeo though so we shall see... regardless I will pray for everyone involved
Ashley Jones February 23, 2013 at 03:14 PM
Everyone notice how that newer thrift store in town "Only Dropped Once" on D st. & 8th street has basically been closed down since Ertman's Swat raid? Its because the owner Geneva is a tweaker herself, & all of the stuff she sold in that store was probably all stolen or from meth trades, or both... her man rented a chicken coup from Ertman that held all their store inventory... funny huh
Annie March 22, 2013 at 08:44 PM
You have no idea what your talking about. So stop acting like you do. Mark had nothing to do with her store closing . You must not know him personally because if you did you would not be running your mouth . annie

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