The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department is warning residents about a frightening scam targeting Morongo Basin residents. On Friday, a Yucca Valley woman called deputies to report that she had received a phone call from an unknown man who said her mother had been kidnapped. Deputies contacted San Bernardino police, who made a welfare check on the mother, who was alive and well and unaware that she had been the subject of a kidnapping scam. Managing editor Tami Roleff offers the following tips on how to avoid being taken by this kidnapping scam…

Law enforcement agencies have been aware of virtual kidnapping fraud for at least two decades. Although virtual kidnapping takes on many forms, it is always an extortion scheme—one that tricks victims into paying a ransom to free a loved one they believe is being threatened with violence or death. Unlike traditional abductions, virtual kidnappers have not actually kidnapped anyone. Instead, through deceptions and threats, they coerce victims to pay a quick ransom before the scheme falls apart. To avoid becoming a victim, look for these possible indicators: Callers go to great lengths to keep you on the phone, insisting you remain on the line. Calls do not come from the supposed victim’s phone. Callers try to prevent you from contacting the “kidnapped” victim. Calls include demands for ransom money to be paid via wire transfer to Mexico; ransom amount demands may drop quickly. If you receive a call about a potential kidnapping, contact the Sheriff’s Department at 760-366-4175.


Police are planning DUI checkpoints and extra patrols to catch drivers under the influence of alcohol, marijuana, illegal drugs and prescription drugs. The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Dept. will have DUI saturation patrols on New Year’s Eve; officers will be out in force. The California Highway Patrol’s maximum enforcement period, will focus on speeders, through 6 p.m. Monday.


The Mojave Desert Land Trust will host three private screenings of the documentary “The Sands of War” at the 29 Palms Art Gallery in January. Reporter Andrew Dieleman has information on how you can attend…

The documentary “Sands of War” chronicles the Desert Training Center, a series of camps located in the Mojave Desert used to train soldiers during World War II. Also known as the Patton Camps, due to the involvement of General George S. Patton, these spaces are rich in historical and cultural importance. The screenings will take place Thursday January 4, from 6-7 p.m.; Friday January 5 from 3-4 p.m.; and Saturday January 6 from 6-7 p.m. All screenings are free to attend, and will take place at the 29 Palms Art gallery, located at 74055 Cottonwood Drive in Twentynine Palms. To RSVP for the screenings, visit the link in this story at

RSVP link:


For many of us, wrapping up the year that was and ringing in the year ahead is a time to think about resolutions and to plan on some celebrating. The San Bernardino Sheriff’s Department offers some tips to help assure a safe and happy new year free of any unexpected misfortune. Reporter Mike Lipsitz puts on his party hat …

The San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department advises … observe local ordinances prohibiting all fireworks in Morongo Basin. Don’t shoot firearms into the air. Remember, what goes up must come down. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings at all times. If you are drinking alcohol, arrange for a designated driver or call a taxi. Do not leave drinks unattended anywhere for any amount of time. Always maintain a fully charged cell phone in case of an emergency. If driving, allow ample travel times, stay alert, observe traffic laws, and be prepared for winter road conditions. And lastly, report suspicious activity. For emergencies call 911, and for non-emergencies call the Sheriff’s Department Desert Dispatch at 760-956-5001.