ID theft blamed for drastic increase in Fresno car burglaries

Thousands of people will head to downtown Fresno this weekend, and they may create a hot spot for crooks. And after a drastic increase in a specific crime, Fresno police are gearing up to crack down.
February 12, 2014 12:00:00 AM PST
Thousands of people will head to downtown Fresno this weekend, and they may create a hot spot for crooks. And after a drastic increase in a specific crime, Fresno police are gearing up to crack down.

The troubling trend is in burglaries from cars, and downtown Fresno is a popular target for the criminals. And what may seem like a minor annoyance at the time could end up stinging for years to come.

559 Fights at the Valdez Hall, the Fresno Philharmonic at Saroyan Theatre, and the San Jose Earthquakes meet the L.A. Galaxy at Chukchansi Park -- three big events and three big targets from police to protect for a changing type of criminal.

"We know that we have a significant number of people that are going to be coming downtown to a number of venues, and we want to make sure that we're prepared for that," said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.

Popular events are also known to attract criminals looking for easy strikes, and parked cars are often the easiest.

Phones and other technology are common items that draw attention, but we found bank statements in the back seat of one car. Police say the burglars are now more frequently targeting cars like that because their real goal is identity theft.

And the problem is not just in downtown. In just the last four weeks, vehicle burglaries are up in every part of the city.

In Southwest Fresno, which includes downtown, it's up 50 percent. But in Southeast Fresno, it's up 111 percent.

The Roosevelt High School area is their hot spot.

"We do have some cameras in the area, so we'll be working video policing to see if we can spot any suspicious individuals," said Lt. Jose Garza, who heads up the southeast policing district.

A camera at Tulare and Chestnut is one of many police can monitor to stop the burglaries.

Video policing is part of the plan for downtown too, along with extra officers on patrol this weekend, in cars and on bikes.

"We're deploying the resources in advance to make sure that we prevent those vehicle burglaries from occurring in the first place," Chief Dyer said. "Predicting where crime occurs allows us to then use our resources to prevent crime."

That way, you won't need to be an MMA fighter to keep yourself protected.


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