Oakhurst businesses say crime on the rise

July 27, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Some Oakhurst business owners say they've noticed an increase in crime in their community in recent months.

Dan Roberts is still dealing with the aftermath of a burglary at Sierra Auto Sales in Oakhurst on Sunday. Authorities say thieves broke into the office, took the keys to nearly every car on the lot, and stole a BMW.

"We're not able to show the cars, nobody's able to drive them, we're having to stay here at night and make sure they don't come back and take more cars," Dan Roberts of Sierra Auto Sales said.

The stolen BMW was found Tuesday after it crashed off an embankment near Bass Lake. Nineteen-year-old Albert Hammond and twenty-year-old Dylan Beazley were both killed. Investigators believe the men were involved in the burglary, but Roberts says this isn't the only serious crime to shake the small mountain community in recent months.

"Maybe it's more high profile, whereas before it was low-profile crimes or didn't seem as bad, now it seems like it's escalating to a higher profile crime," Roberts said.

Back in may, deputies found a 42-year-old Oakhurst woman lying unconscious on the side of the road near bass lake with severe head trauma. And that's not all: earlier this month deputies arrested two teenage girls accused of trying to carjack a Japanese tourist in a parking lot.

The lot is just off Highway 41 and surrounded by businesses, including the Magic Mojo art shop. Owner David Keith Quigley says he's also grown more concerned about crime.

"It has picked up. Basically I stay here about 18 hours a day just to try to protect the businesses around here, and I've caught people trying to smash windows and break into cars and that kind of thing," Magic Mojo owner David Keith Quigley said.

But the Sheriff's Office says its statistics do not show any significant increase in crime.

"Actually it's not changed much at all. Over the past few years we've had property crimes go up primarily because of the economy, but it's not been a true spike or anything," Sheriff John Anderson said.

Anderson says the unusual nature of the recent cases and the media attention may make residents perceive the situation as worse than it really is. But Roberts says it's also a reminder that times have changed, and the community needs to be aware.

"If we see something that's maybe looking a little fishy, we better start doing something about it instead of letting it go, thinking it's not anything because more than likely that it is," Roberts said.


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