Police fight spike in Tower District crime

FRESNO, Calif.

Police say the residential area that encompasses Fresno's Tower District has seen an increase in vehicle burglaries and aggravated assaults. They put the blame on an influx of gang members, but are working to stop it quickly.

The police presence in the Tower District will not always be obvious. Undercover and plain clothes officers are being placed in position throughout the area. Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer says such shifts are part of the department's tactics.

Chief Dyer explained, "What we are seeing from month to month is that we will see crime shift from one part of the city to another and when that happens we want to identify that as quickly as possible and put as many resources as we can into that particular area."

Residents we spoke with say there are problems, especially in the area between Belmont and Olive.

"I found hypodermic needles in my backyard still."

Josh Jacobs said, "The crime, it's pretty intense here, I don't see it getting better any time soon."

Jacobs and his family have lived on Belmont for a few months, and have learned to be cautious.

"As long as you stay inside, lock your doors, lock your windows, not too much of a problem and we've got dogs too to let us know if there's anything going on," explained Jacobs.

Just up the street, a woman who was afraid to be identified told us.

"We stay inside, we don't go anywhere. We live in fear of getting our house broken into. You know basically not going outside because of the drugs and stuff."

She's planning to move soon.

While residents are uneasy, the statistics show overall the crime rate in the area is down significantly over last year, but in the past few weeks there has been a spike in vehicle burglaries and theft.

Bill Kuebler of the Towers Marketing Association acknowledges it's a constant battle.

Kuebler explained, "You know I think all of Fresno has seen some increase in property crime, car thefts and break-ins. And again a big part to that is the jail situation property crime folks go to jail and they get back out right away again, and I know it's very frustrating for our police officers as well. They don't let that deter them, they say they are going to take them down and arrest them anyway."

Chief Dyer says it's hoped the brief, but intense effort will quickly keep crime in the district in check.

"So we are going to increase our resources with traffic officers, detectives with our violent crime impact team we are going to make sure we are able to drive those crime numbers down," said Chief Dyer.

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