NORCO (CNS) - Squatter camps dotting the Santa Ana River bottom in Norco were targeted during a Riverside County sheriff's operation to discourage the homeless from staying in the area, where brush fires have been a re-occurring problem.
Wednesday morning, deputies walked the dry riverbed between Interstate 15 and Pedley Road, contacting eight people encamped in four separate locations, according to sheriff's officials.
``The objective of the operation was to provide homeless outreach, as well as to prevent trespassing and other crimes associated with the homeless community,'' according to an agency statement. In several camps, the dwellers appeared to be living in tents, with their belongings, including clothes, tables and appliances, scattered over a wide perimeter. In other locations, the parties appeared to be sleeping in lean-tos set up adjacent to trees.
Officials said the individuals whom deputies encountered were issued trespassing citations and directed to vacate the premises within a few days. The illegal campers were also given phone numbers and addresses of where to obtain temporary shelter and other assistance in Riverside County.``No Trespassing'' signs will be posted throughout the area in the coming weeks, according to the sheriff's department.
The river bottom is notorious for outbreaks of vegetation fires, frequently triggered by cooking and warming apparatuses used by people who are illegally camped.