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It’s more than just homeless stealing silverware and then running

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POSTED October 5, 2017 1:09 a.m.

Debby Moorhead was at Denny’s on South Main Street when two homeless individuals entered the restaurant, grabbed some silverware, and fled.
On their way out she had to place herself between an elderly lady and the culprits in order to prevent them from knocking the lady over.
Moorhead — who serves on the Manteca City Council — related how on previous visits to the restaurant homeless would circle the parking lot.
“I know you’re not supposed to say it, but it looked like they were up to no good,” Moorhead said.
Moorhead and other council members Tuesday voiced their growing concern about low level crime such as petty theft and quality of life crime as well as blight conditions taking the shine off of living and doing business in Manteca.
They have a plan to deal with it. Actually it is a plan that worked for years before people became disconnected and started expecting instant gratification in terms of problems being solved. The plan? Getting involved. By that they mean making police aware of what’s going on.
Mayor Steve DeBrum asked that when people see something amiss to “please pick up the phone and dial 456-8100 — that’s the (police) non-emergency number.”
Councilman Mike Morowit added that the community needs to serve as the eyes and ears of the Manteca Police. The reason is simple. Depending on the time and day of the week there may be roughly the same number of officers on the street you can count on both of your hands. Compare that to 75,000 plus Manteca residents.
Even if the police can’t break away from other calls that may be a higher priority or else have a backlog of calls for service and take a long-time responding or perhaps don’t respond at all, the information you provide will likely be able to help the department direct resources to help prevent the problem from reoccurring.
The petty theft at Denny’s likely wasn’t reported either via the non-emergency number or the online reporting system. The reason could be as simple — and somewhat correct — notion that the police can’t do anything about it.
But if the police are getting reports of similar issues reoccurring in general locations, that gives them the ability to detect patterns and deploy patrols between calls in a more effective manner.
If they note a pattern of snatch and runs at restaurants or people on bicycles seemingly menacing people at various locations, it gives them the ability to direct resources effectively. In the overall scheme of things silverware grab and runs or bicyclists acting suspicious around cars — think auto burglary — may not sound like a big crime concern but it can set the tone for things to get worse if people don’t get engaged.
“We have criminals in this town, regardless of their situation,” Morowit said.
He suggests that people give the police the tools they need to address problems and to direct offenders into the criminal justice system. That means people who have issues with homeless or vagrants such as drug users entering onto their property that may be vagrants or after hours when their business is closed to have no trespassing letters on file with the police department. Such letters give police the ability to address quality of life crimes as it gives them the legal right of entry to the grounds.
The other is to be willing to make a “citizen’s arrest” — or more precisely be willing to testify in court to the infraction you witnessed. The reason is simple. Unless a quality of life crime is witnessed by an officer, he can only employ the law when whoever saw it and reported it is willing to testify.
Councilman Gary Singh addressed dealing with blight to address crime.
At the end of Tuesday’s meeting during council comments, Singh wanted to see if the city could step up efforts surrounding garbage left in downtown alleys that is often left pilled against dumpsters.
In some cases, it is the result of those dumpster divers that don’t put the trash that they toss on the ground while rifling through garbage back into the dumpster. Sometimes its trash that people drive to business dumpsters and illegally drop off. And other times its people who believe they are being Good Samaritans leaving clothes and other items including food for the homeless in downtown parks who take what they want and then litter the downtown with what they don’t want.
Singh noted city crews are cleaning up some of such trash issues currently but he believes in many cases business owners are being forced to address things that they have nothing to do with. Making it worse, due to limited trash capacity in dumpsters that businesses pay for, the garbage stays in sight for days trashing downtown and other areas plus business owners get cited.
Police Chief Jodie Estarziau noted that community resource officer Mike Kelly will often pick up trash in the downtown area as well as other city crews that also do so elsewhere in the community along with the alternative work program crews consisting of those sentenced by the court system for community service.

Left turn signal
for Crestwood
at Lathrop Road?
Manteca City Manager Tim Ogden reported to the council staff is looking into the feasibility of making some improvements at the Crestwood Avenue intersection with Lathrop Road just west of the Highway 99 interchange.
The issue was brought to the city’s attention by Councilwoman Debby Moorhead.
Possible ways of improving safety involve creating a dedicated left turn sequence for traffic signals as well as larger and more visible signage.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email dwyatt@mantecabulletin.com

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