Fresno police stepping up patrols near shopping centers during holiday's

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Car burglaries generally rise in the weeks leading up to Christmas. But in northeast Fresno, officers are getting ahead of criminals with a combination of patrol and prevention measures.

Like clockwork before every Christmas, more people go out shopping and more criminals are behind them lurking. And Fresno Police detective Sammy Ashworth has to come up with new ways to stop them.

"We are trying to lower the numbers by any means that we can, make arrests, public education," Ashworth said.

Northeast Fresno is one of the city's major shopping hubs. In the last 14 days, there were 74 vehicle break-ins. The number may sound high, but Ashworth says it's a small victory for this time of year.

"It's actually good," he said. "Because we see more people, the nights are longer, and we increased shopping here in the district."

The number of car burglaries this month is down 15 percent from this October. Police said it's because of an increase in patrols at plazas, informational maps uploaded onto Facebook, but, most importantly, self-protection tips people are finally using.

"We don't ever leave anything of value in the car," said Ann Johnson, who lives in the area. "And, actually, one of us sits on the porch and watches while the other one unloads grocery out of the car."

Detectives say criminals typically target residential, dimly lit neighborhoods. They will use a device to break the window and are more observant than people think.

"My husband and I don't shop alone because of our age," Johnson said. "If my husband doesn't take us, my son-in-law takes us or my daughter brings us. Because we feel vulnerable because we are old."

And as holiday shopping only picks up, officers hope people continue to practice these tips because some things can't be recovered.

"They suffer long-term effects," Ashworth said. "Not just the replacement of the glass or their item, they lose their identity or their accounts get hacked."

Officers said most cases these burglaries are extremely hard to solve unless fingerprints or surveillance video is left behind.
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