Beefed Up Protection for Shoppers This Holiday Season

November 26, 2008 10:31:16 PM PST
Whether protecting shoppers by foot, car or horse, police have their work cut out for them this holiday season with property theft on the rise across Fresno. That's why over 100 law enforcement cameras will also be there to help catch would-be thieves. Every activity from walking in and out of stores to driving cars is monitored by Fresno police cadets like Justin Hardy."It's a big deterrent. Put up a camera people know the cameras there, they're not as likely to do crime there or as much of it," said Hardy.

This effort to monitor people in busy shopping centers over the holiday is called "Christmas Presence." Fresno police Chief Jerry Dyer said vehicle burglary is up 8% this year over last and home burglaries are up nearly 6%. And the tough economy is partially to blame.

"The truth is seeing these numbers signifies a significant trend that we want to combat. We will have police officers out there actively looking for anyone who would be preying on innocent victims," said Dyer.

And those who are caught can expect to spend some time in jail. In the past, there have been issues with over crowding at the Fresno County jail but deputy Chris Curtice said not to worry.

"We'll gear up staff wise and right now there's room in the jail so we're ok. And as it gets crowded or approaches capacity we'll deal with it then," said Curtice.

Shoppers said they don't mind this beefed up police presence, even though some consider it "big brother".

Shopper Daniel Uriarte said: "I consider it 'Big Momma!' Big momma cause it's like my momma catch you, you gonna get your hand slapped. Put your hand in the cookie jar and it's gonna get cut off."

"I'm not doing nuttin wrong. So it's nice to know they're keepin an eye out," said shopper Kevin Powe.

Operation Christmas Presence starts Black Friday morning and ends Christmas Eve.

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