Crackdown on Fresno car theft

FRESNO, Calif.

The police chief hopes his new plan stops you from becoming the next victim and has the car thief thinking twice. He is going to buy beds here in hopes of changing the serial behavior.

'Tis the season for shopping and in the city of Fresno, auto theft. Shopping mall parking lots are easy pickins for thieves.

Car theft is up 35.5 percent citywide in Fresno over last year. Police Chief Jerry Dyer says it all comes down to high release rates for thieves at the county jail.

"We know that we're lacking the consequences for those individuals that we are arresting today. People are not staying behind bars, they are not staying in jail so people that we are arresting, we are re-arresting many. Many times and they are the same ones that are committing thefts," Chief Dyer said.

Terri Brookshire spent Friday morning shopping for deals at River Park, she says despite the rising car theft numbers, she still feels safe.

"There's a lot of police officers out, a lot of security. I also carry a concealed weapon, so I feel good about that. But I don't think I'm going to have to use it because there's a lot of security, I feel very safe."

Most shoppers we found say they aren't worried about coming out to the parking lot and finding their car missing.

But the chief sees the statistics going up, so come 2011, he plans to keep serial car thieves and burglars in custody longer, by paying for additional bed space at the jail. He wants repeat offenders to stay at least until they are arraigned.

"When that happens, then if they go out and commit additional crimes, then there's a 2 year sentencing enhancement on them, meaning that they're going to go to prison. So we're going to start that in January- purchasing actually 5 beds from the jail in hopes of deterring some of these auto thefts and burglaries in our community."

The police chief and Fresno county sheriff are still working out cost details, but Dyer says the current system is clearly not working.

The chief says the car theft problem is fueled by a few prolific thieves who manage to steal large numbers of cars. So if they are kept behind bars, he believes the numbers should go back down.

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