Property Crime in Fresno is on the Rise

December 12, 2008 6:52:56 PM PST
Fresno is in the middle of what appears to be a property crime wave.The Action News Crimetracker shows a 17% increase in property crimes this holiday season and the epicenter of activity is the areas where you're most likely to shop.

The Crimetracker shows a dramatic spike in shoplifting and vehicle burglaries on the north side of town, like in the River Park area. Police say part of it is because people are making their cars into targets ... But they're trying to stop it, just by being seen.

At the fashion fair mall, you might see the holiday spirit, but a crook sees department store bags, gift boxes, and even TVs -- all in plain sight. Police see a bad statistic that could be prevented. "Sometimes people feel that 'I'm not going to be a victim' until they are, but that's why we really stress 'don't make yourself an easy target,'" said Fresno police Capt. Lydia Carrasco, of the northeast policing district.

The Crimetracker shows 836 property crimes over a two-week period ending Thursday. That includes all burglaries, vehicle burglaries, larcenies, and auto thefts. There were just 715 over a similar time frame last year, and 708 over another two-week period just two months ago.

Crimetracker shows the most drastic difference on the north side of town, with the northeast police district taking the hardest hit. Property crimes are up by more than 100 there this year. Every kind of crime is up, with the biggest increase coming in larcenies -- which is mostly shoplifting. It's up to 153 over two weeks this year from just 86 over the same two weeks last year. The holidays are typically a time for lots of property crime, but police say the economy may be making this year especially bad.

"Times are hard," said Capt. Carrasco. "People are struggling and there are those people who know they can't resort to crime to get what they want and there are those who don't care." That's why their "Operation Christmas Presence" is more important than ever this year.

Security guards are keeping an eye on Fashion Fair and River Park by day, but the police are making sure you see them at night, and they're trying to see you too -- on mall surveillance cameras. Since the operation started two weeks ago, there haven't been any major incidents at the malls, but the number of minor property crimes is still rising.

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