Tulare Business Owners Fight Vandalism

April 4, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
The program is similar to the traditional neighborhood watch program, but aims to protect businesses in downtown Tulare.Business owners in downtown Tulare are sick of the vandalism and graffiti that's plagued their stores.

Alex Garagos owns Tulare Karate and Kung Fu on "K" Street. He's still trying to clean up broken bricks and graffiti left on his shop by vandals Thursday night.

Dozens of downtown business owners have just partnered with the Tulare Police Department to form "Bizwatch." The new organization hopes to bring more police resources downtown to stop crime and open up the lines of communication between businesses. "It works best when we all work together and there's no better set of eyes and ears than the public's itself," said Tulare Police Chief Roger Hill.

Business owners are hoping to bring more Police Officers on bicycle patrol to the downtown. Tulare Police claim bicycle patrol is more personal and makes it easier for officers to maneuver around downtown.

They also want to install a video surveillance system. The city said their current cameras, paid for by grant money more than five years ago, are no longer working.

Lionel Pires thinks new cameras will help deter crimes and prosecute vandals. His tire shop has been hit several times in the last six months. "We've had graffiti, we've had theft we've had our windows broken out we've had our dumpster set on fire. The fire almost jumped to the building."

Jerry Magoon, Bizwatch coordinator said, "the biggest concern of all is that generally we want this to be downtown that everyone considers to be a safe place to be."

Magoon also hopes Bizwatch will give Tulare an economic boost. Because safer streets could bring more shoppers downtown.


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