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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.

Rachael-Elizabeth Hurtado February 06, 2013 at 08:50 PM
good job ramona sheriffs department
Regina Flores February 06, 2013 at 09:16 PM
Feel a little safer now...Ramona;s Finest at work. Good job.
Vickie Acord February 06, 2013 at 09:44 PM
Great job Ramona law enforcement!
Catryna White February 06, 2013 at 10:12 PM
Hahaha My first thought was; "They're arresting chickens?" Anyway, wonder if that facility will be shut down?
Gail Goerisch February 06, 2013 at 10:40 PM
I wondered what was going on yesterday morning when i passed leaving for work. Wow!
c. Manina February 06, 2013 at 10:41 PM
Now we know why so many stolen cars in Ramona pver past months!! And maybe why so many 'under the influence' arrests lately, too.
Kat McClanahan February 06, 2013 at 10:45 PM
Excellent! I saw a HUGE amount of sheriffs there yesterday on my way to drop off my son and figured it was a county meeting! Guess it was...GOOD JOB, Sheriffs!!!
Catryna White February 06, 2013 at 10:46 PM
Great job from our men in blue.
christi February 06, 2013 at 11:30 PM
So proud of the Ramona Sheriff's Dept. I passed this bust taking my son to school and there were so many sheriff's cars I thought it was a training in action! Keep up the good work!
Lisa Mooney Dehaine February 07, 2013 at 12:40 AM
Very Nice! Thank you Ramona Sheriff's Department!!
Lori February 07, 2013 at 02:25 AM
Great Job to all who helped clean up our little town! :) Are the names of the other 12 going to be published? Seems as though they deserve to be punished as well .. just my opinion. :)
Debbie DeGarmo February 07, 2013 at 05:31 PM
Ramona has attracted more & more very unsavory people, several drug houses have been busted by the Sheriff's dept. rooster & dog fighting, domestic violence calls on the rise too per the Sheriffs Dept. This was good police work, thank you Sheriff's Dept. Suggest we all watch & report, install full camera & security on your property to keep you, your loved ones & pets safe. Times are changing and not for the better. We wondered what was going on here, glad the Sheriff's got them. Thank-you
MEG HAYES February 07, 2013 at 07:07 PM
try to keep in mind that he is INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY in a court of law. Mr. Ertman is an upstanding citizen of this community who has helped endless families thru hard times. Whether it was firewood to keep their family warm, or fixing their septic or plumbing issues, to getting up in the dead of night to come fix an automobile because the owner was starting a new job the next morning, I know this to be fact because the car belonged to me. The only way that I would believe those charges is if Mark himself told me. Just remember, INNOCENT TILL PROVEN GUILTY.
David H February 07, 2013 at 09:31 PM
Meg, you mean *Ex-con Mark Jeffrey Ertman* huh?
MEG HAYES February 08, 2013 at 12:34 AM
Good job my butt. do you people really believe everything you read. This crap is so far from the truth it's unbelievable. Let me tell you some thing about mark. He is one of the nicest guy's and a great asset to our community. There is no one he wont help. A nd he is honest. He is no way a thief. If he had something you really needed and didn't have money. He would give it to you. When he was moving and only had 14 days left, He got a phone call. this older gentleman's well quit working. he put his life on hold to go fix it for him, because it was very important they had water. at one point or another He has helped out over half the population of ramona. including myself. I trust mark with everything i own. if it wasn't for him. The real thief's in this town and julian would have stolen everything i own. But mark stepped in helped me out. He paid to have my vehicles towed. and He let me work off the money by splitting wood. He could have looked the other way, but he didn't and he doesn't. I don't think one day goes by, where mark doesn't help someone. And for those chicken coups, Mark is not responsable for all those. some of those are rented out to other people by the owner. He don't know whats in them. So before every body goes and falsely accuses people they should get their facts straight. Because He is no way a thief. What he is ,is a great asset to this community. Once again our great law enforcement is arresting the good guy, while the bad guys are still out there
MEG HAYES February 08, 2013 at 12:35 AM
stealing our stuff. They would have stole everything of mine if it wasn't for mark helping me. Thank you mark, I'm very sorry they are bumb rapping you like this. It just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished. isn't that a shame. He has helped out over half of the elderly people in this town, and probably over half the younger generation too. For what it's worth mark you are very much appreciated in this town. And we all thank you!
MEG HAYES February 08, 2013 at 12:37 AM
The last two comments and this one meg didn't write I did. I don't know why it showed up as meg. sorry for that.
LaRee Locken February 08, 2013 at 08:44 AM
That's right . remember ex.... I know that there is not one single person alive on this planet that is without sin. except for Jesus. I love you Jesus. So let the one without sin cast the first stone. But the fact remains the same. Mark is not a thief. He does not go around stealing people's belongings. nor does he partake in any way of any form of stealing. He treats everyone fairly. He is a business man. He is a very hard worker. And he has worked his butt off, to get to where he is today. Not by stealing it. Or trying to get over on people. like most people do..
Nancy Ciulla Fastenau February 09, 2013 at 04:27 AM
are you a split personality.. .geez
LaRee Locken February 09, 2013 at 09:04 PM
And Just for your information, Mark Ertman is not and never has been a con or ex con. This whole story is a big fat lie. He is an outstanding gentleman that has done nothing but help this community.
LaRee Locken February 09, 2013 at 09:21 PM
and the next two comments below I LaRee Locken wrote them not meg. I don't know why it showed up meg, I do apologize for that. I told meg i would set the record straight. I did once, but i'm doing it again. thanks
LaRee Locken February 09, 2013 at 09:45 PM
Now would you like the real story. on how are sheriff dept just waisted aolot of the tax payers money. They did not sieze any drugs from marks house. The 8,000 dollars that they stoled from mark was his inheritance money for the month. The stolen vehicle that was in one of the chicken coups also did not belong to mark. it was in the chicken coup that the owner rents out to someone else. and the 44,000 dollars worth of stuff they took that they said was stolen also a lie. was marks stuff. That he showed them receipts for, and they took it anyway. They even took his mothers coin collection that she left him. so who are the real thief's here? Definitely not Mark ertman. But our crooked law enforcement that lied to save there own butts, for waisting our hard earned tax dollars. They even took his eighteen year old dog. That cost him 350.00 to get back. I'm so glad this whole ordeal did not kill him. And when this is all over our sheriff department has alot of apologizing to do.
LaRee Locken February 09, 2013 at 09:54 PM
And not to mention all the trash from their pizza party from 35 swat members and 70 law enforcement officers, left at his house all over his yard. Yep that's our finest doing there job. That's really pathetic. We need new law enforcement agents that don't think they are above the law. Yep and guess what, The real thief's are still out there stealing our stuff. Go figure.
Missy February 12, 2013 at 01:58 PM
Mark Ertman is the most helpful man in this town. You people who dont know him wouldn't even know it but he does alot for this town. And defintally doesn't steal anything or let anyone keep stolen stuff on his property but like it was said above he only occupies a few of those chicken coops, so he is not responsible for the stuff in the other ones. Mark is family to me and he is the best dad, grandpa of 5, uncle, brother, friend and many other things. He's a hard worker. Never takes a day off and is the most compassionate and caring person I know. He can fix anything with a motor or that's made out of metal and can build, fix up, and remodel any thing in your house. He will help anyone who asks him too with anything you could possibly come up with. He has helped me through some really hard times in my life. And its really messed up that they took his dog. What did his dog do to deserve that mark would never EVER let anything bad happen to him and has never neglected him in any way. He loves that dog more then anything and that dog loves him. His dog is very old and I hope the sheriff did not hurt him in anyway, all he knows is mark and he's too old to be taken away from his owner that's all he knows. So before you people try and commend the local sheriff you need to get ur facts straight. Whoever wrote this article needs to go talk to the real victim here and that's Mr. Mark Ertman and get the facts and proof from him.
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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