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Residential burglaries up 36.22%
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Residential burglaries in Manteca increased 36.22 percent in the first 10 months of 2008 compared to the same period last year.
Home break-ins, robbery and grand theft recorded the only jumps in the felony crimes in Manteca during the reporting period. All other felony crime categories — including vehicle theft that at one time was Manteca’s Achilles Heel — have dropped. Vehicle thefts are down 12.89 percent with 277 vehicles stolen in the first 10 months of this year compared with 318 in the same time period in 2007. That contrasts with 2004 when a record 798 vehicles were stolen off Manteca’s streets.
All felonies are down in Manteca by 2.78 percent through Oct. 31 of this year.
Police Chief Dave Bricker credits that with a “dedicated group of officers” who are spending more time on the street patrolling instead of taking reports thanks to an increase in community service officers.
Many of the officers are now writing their own warrants based on intelligence they gather. Several years ago officers were so loaded down with taking reports, detectives were the ones that primarily wrote warrants.
“You don’t catch bicycle thieves by taking a report,” Bricker said. “You do it by catching them in the act.”
And that means more police on the street as they are not tied up doing tasks that less trained personnel can handle.
In a move to increase the effectiveness of personnel, the department last month converted two vacant police officer positions to three community service officers. The three additional CSOs take a lot of the report handling duties away from patrol officers freeing them up to look for crime as it happens.
The city now has 83 sworn police officers.
Bricker noted December is a double whammy this year when it comes to residential burglaries thanks to the tanking economy and the holidays.
“Thefts normally go up during Christmas,” Bricker said.
That includes commercials burglary — primarily shop lifting — and vehicle burglaries.  In the first 10 months of this year, commercial burglaries are down 13.53 percent to 133 from 115 while auto burglary is off 3.69 percent from 597 to 575.
December is only halfway through and there have already been two dozen residential burglaries.
Police have stepped up patrols in neighborhoods and added mounted horses patrols and bicycle patrols at shopping centers in a bid to catch criminals off guard.
In one recent patrol stop, officers pulled over a vehicle on Woodward Avenue out of Los Angeles that was loaded with individuals who said they were knocking on doors in neighborhoods looking for work. The vehicle had tools typically used in burglaries in the back. Since the car had expired tags and other traffic warrants, police impounded it and gave the subjects a ride to the city limits.