Crooks hit Valley streets for a little Christmas shopping

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say burglars will walk through neighborhoods, find a house and knock on the door. If nobody answers, they'll check to see if there are any open doors or windows. If they don't find any, they'll leave, but if they do, one more house will get burglarized.

A broken fence marks the spot where burglars got into Mary Ann Gibbs' backyard Monday. But by the time the two men tried to haul out a sports bag and two pillow cases full of valuables, they weren't alone. Sheriff's deputies had nearly surrounded them and thwarted the crime.

"One bag was recovered over the fence that had some items in it that I was able to identify, but I couldn't touch so I'm not exactly sure what was in there," Gibbs said. "There still could be some missing things, I don't know."

The suspects got away, but detectives think they're closing in on them. Those detectives and their counterparts across the Valley suddenly have a huge workload on their hands.

Fresno police are looking for a man who's suspected of breaking into a woman's home on Saturday. And Clovis police are trying to identify the four burglary suspects in surveillance images. They're accused of stealing tools from an apartment complex. Police say it's a common holiday season trend and they're prepared to combat it.

Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer said, "We start looking at what zone those burglaries are occurring in, what time of day, what day of the week, and then we deploy our resources accordingly."

But burglars have left their marks this year. Fresno County as a whole has seen a 45 percent increase in burglaries in 2012. And in Northwest Fresno, which surrounds Gibb's neighborhood, burglaries are down four percent for the year, but in the last two weeks, they're up 25 percent -- a frightening thought for many residents.

Gibbs we have felt safe here until the last six months and this is happening everywhere in our neighborhood.

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