Northern Mendocino County residents have experienced a strange and troubling occurrence this week. Several have reported seeing a white male driving a burgundy Prius stopping in front of their residence, taking pictures of property and vehicles, and then hurriedly fleeing the area when confronted.
Witnesses told us the driver is a white male in his mid-20s or 30s with light brown hair. The burgundy Toyota Prius has a personalized license plate that reads “NE1HOME” and yellow lettering on the vehicle’s hatch that reads, “This vehicle makes residential and commercial stops.”
Laytonville resident Regina Dickson was outside of her home taking care of livestock on the afternoon of Monday, November 9, when the vehicle entered her driveway. The driver began to turn around in the long driveway when she approached, asking the driver if “he was looking for someone, or just went down the wrong driveway.”
She said he told her that “he couldn’t make contact and that I was making contact.” Dickson then asked the driver if he had business at her property, and he said he “was making sure I still lived there.” Dickson was unsure who the driver was gathering information for, so she asked for “identification or a business card to validate his presence.” The driver responded, “he didn’t need to prove anything.” Dickson asked the driver to leave and not return “as his presence was obviously just him trespassing” to which the driver responded, “he would come anytime he needed or wanted.”
Dickson described the man driving away while “taking pictures of my house and vehicle.” Dickson said the encounter made her feel “quite uncomfortable and somewhat stalked almost” and added that she felt “vulnerable” because that man’s motive for being there was unclear.
On Tuesday, November 10, around 2:45 p.m., Danelle Gamble Keeton arrived at her mother’s Potter Valley home when her son and niece ran out of the house, asking if she had seen the red Prius-type car. She told them she had not seen the vehicle when Keeton’s sister came out of the house, telling her that the car had come down their driveway, turned around, and then stopped to take pictures of the house and the children standing in front of it. Keeton said her sister approached the vehicle inquiring about his purpose when the driver “flew out of there with a little wave.” Upon hearing this information, Keeton said she jumped in her car to look around the area but did not find him. Keeton found it strange that someone would “take pics with two kids,” and then “book it when the adult comes out to see what’s up.”
A resident of Brooktrails was outside his home on Tuesday afternoon doing yard work when the Toyota Prius “pulled up to my house.” He noticed the driver was “taking a picture of two of my vehicles and license plates.” After seeing the resident, the driver reportedly “drove away.” The resident decided to “follow him to try and get an answer for why he felt the need to take pictures of my license plates.” The resident pursued the driver and said he was “actively taking pictures of other people’s houses while I was following him.” The resident provided a video of the pursuit and noted the quality of the video makes it hard to see, but the driver is “taking pictures out of the sunroof” of the streets and properties they passed.
Mendocino County Sheriff Office’s Public Information Officer Captain Greg Van Patten said deputies responded to concerns regarding the Prius: “we got call for service on 11-10-20 in the 24000 block of Ridge Road in Brooktrails.” He said that deputies “didn’t find the vehicle.” Captain Van Patten said, “Activity might not be illegal but is suspicious enough for us to stop and contact the driver.” He asks that “anyone who sees the vehicle to report any sighting to us so that we can attempt contact with the driver.”