Fresno takes a united front to fight organized retail crime

Kate Nemarich Image
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
Fresno takes a united front to fight organized retail crime
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A multi-million dollar grant will help Fresno stop a costly retail theft.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A multi-million dollar grant will help Fresno stop a costly retail theft.

"Businesses and victims have been patient long enough," said Jerry Dyer, Fresno Mayor.

Fresno is taking a new approach to fight back against organized retail crimes.

The police department received more than a $23 million grant from the state.

"We're going to use this money to identify the criminal elements who are committing these crimes, specifically, organized retail theft, identify them and prosecute them," said Chief Paco Balderrama, Fresno Police.

That money will be used to create the Fresno Metropolitan Area Organized Retail Task Force, teaming up Fresno Police with Clovis Police, the Fresno County Probation Department, and the Fresno County District Attorney's Office. The money will be dispersed over the next three years. Fresno Police will get more than 15 million dollars from the grant. Some of that will be used to hire more officers.

"If you're thinking about stealing the catalytic converter, if you're thinking about doing a smash and grab, we got 25 officers just for you. They're gonna be looking for you, and they're going to be coming after you if you commit some of these crimes," said Tyler Maxwell, Fresno City Council President.

Balderramma said responding officers are only part of the solution. They need to prevent the crimes from happening.

"What we do is we take, we take technology, we take information, we take data, we take intelligence, and then we take a proactive approach," said Balderrama.

The chief said their research shows only a small percentage of people are committing the thefts, but prosecution for individual crimes can be hard, so working alongside the district attorney's office is key.

"It's a group of criminals who are getting together, conspiring and hitting several different locations," said Balderrama. "So we have, you know, through the authority of the district attorney's office, we can lump a lot of those crimes together, and it quickly adds up to be a felony and a serious crime."

The final part is working with the probation department to monitor parolees. In the meantime, the mayor is urging business owners to trust they're working on the issue.

"Number one, thank you for your patience, and number two, help is on the way," said Dyer.

The Fresno City Council will need to accept the grant through a resolution on September 28.

Then the money will start being dispursed in October.

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