Alarming burglary trend in northeast Fresno

FRESNO, Calif.

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Burglars have hit about 100 Fresno homes every week of 2011 so far and most of them are on the north side of town. Police say apartment complexes are frequent targets because the crooks can get in and out anonymously.

A back alley gave burglars the cover they needed to pry open one garage door and break into a woman's northeast Fresno apartment. When she came home, she found a few key items gone. "All of my photography equipment was taken, my laptop, my son's Wii, all of their games, and their cell phone," she said.

In all, $3,000 worth of equipment and electronics were gone, but for a woman who works as a photographer, the damages are much worse. "It's a sickening feeling to know somebody came in uninvited, unannounced, took something that didn't belong to them," she said.

The woman doesn't want to be identified because she's afraid the crooks will come back. But she's far from alone as a burglary victim in northeast Fresno.

The Action News Crimetracker shows 198 burglaries in northeast Fresno so far this year. Last year at this time, there were just 144. That's a 37.5% increase.

Police are seeing the trend as well, especially on the north side of town. "They're obviously going to go where there's more property to be stolen," said Fresno police Capt. Al Maroney.

Maroney says the rash of burglaries is a sign of the economic times. And, he says it doesn't help that non-violent criminals are frequently released from the Fresno County jail because of overcrowding. "It's that type of situation that's allowing our numbers to spike because what you're having is people who are thieves and they're free to do what they do," he said.

Maroney points to accused burglars like Jeffrey Moore, Craig Smith and Terry Sacra. They've all been caught after allegedly targeting people in northeast Fresno, and they've all been released more than once -- most recently on Tuesday.

To slow the trend, police are passing out flyers encouraging people to join neighborhood watches. They say the best defense against burglars is just being aware.

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