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The good news: Drop in crime
Crime & recession arent going hand-in-hand
Crime continued to drop in almost all felony categories in Manteca during 2009. - photo by Bulletin file photo

Recessions usually mean an uptick in crime.

That’s not the case, however, with The Great Recession.

Month-to-month comparison of crime statistics from 2009 to last year show felonies dropping across the board in Manteca.

“Most recessions usually see property crimes go up,” noted Police Chief Dave Bricker.

Bricker pointed that even in Stockton – historically a place of high crime – is seeing double-digit drops in burglaries and robberies.

Even so, Bricker noted Manteca has seen a decline in crime began in some categories before the start of The Great Recession that was worsened by the mortgage meltdown.

Bricker credits Manteca’s drop in crime problems to two things – rank and file officers and the community.

“Our guys are professional, dedicated and hard working,” Bricker said.

The chief said officers understand the economic situation and the fact the force will be down to 55 officers. He emphasized they are committed to serving and protecting the residents of Manteca.

At the same time, Bricker noted the community’s support – and demand – for law enforcement has played a big role in dropping the crime rate.

“Crime will rise to the level a community will tolerate,” Bricker said. “Manteca has made it clear that it won’t tolerate crime.”

Bricker noted Manteca is in a precarious location midway between two high crime cities – Modesto and Stockton. It was what drove auto thefts to a record 798 in 2005.

The milestones that Bricker noted that have helped change Manteca’s fortunes include:

• A police crackdown coupled with community intervention three years ago that drastically reduced gang violence in and around Southside Park where at one point there was gun fire or a stabbing every other day. Today, Bricker noted, while problems still exist they have been reduced to a level that families and their children again feel comfortable using the park.

• A concentrated effort at going after the most prolific criminals by directing resources to habitual repeaters who are responsible for the lion’s share of crimes. That has resulted in prison time for many of those repeat offenders.

• Targeting vehicle thefts that were once happening almost twice a day and are now at roughly half that rate using everything from bait cars that in high theft areas that get the criminals behind the steering wheel only to lock them inside while cutting the engine remotely to catch them for an easy arrest to probation searches.

• Voter approval three years ago of the Measure M half cent sales tax for public safety.

Bricker indicated while Manteca is heading in the right direction there is still more work to be done especially targeting gangs and trying to divert young people into other activities early on instead of getting caught up in the lifestyle.