More than a few merchants are taking to heart tips provided by Manteca Police during the department’s first Business Watch Academy gathering including partnering with a nearby store in case of trouble occurring inside their businesses by setting up a confidential code that would be a sign of distress.
More than 30 people attended Monday’s seminar at the Manteca Transit Center designed to provide guidelines on how to deal with homeless individuals as well as a thefts in downtown stores and shopping centers.
“We are pleased to have an opportunity to network and focus on the real issues and concerns facing businesses within our community,” Police Chief Jodie Estarziau told the gathering. “We plan to host these training sessions every quarter along with working on specific issues on a case by case basis.”
Lt. Stephen Schluer and Community Resource Officer Stephen Smith were in charge of the program.
“You need to get to know your neighbor just like neighborhood watch,” Schluer said. “ Get together and have a plan in case an emergency situation develops within your store. The individual merchants have to get together on a regular basis and we will have another Business Watch in the next quarter.”
The seminar involved splitting merchants into smaller groups at separate tables with one officer assigned to each table for the break-out sessions focusing on business problem areas including homeless individuals sleeping in store doorways.
Detective Aaron Montoya hosted one of the tables where he offered education and information on the prevention of credit card fraud and check fraud along with the occurrence of general thefts. Montoya explained how credit cards are actually being made to fit the profile of the individual. It was also explained that a large bill – like an often used $20 – can be determined to be fake by running the pad of the index finger over the horizontal lines on the President’s coat on the face of the bill. If the lines cannot be felt, it is often a bogus bill.
Community Service Officer Lisa Lewis at another table provided useful information to the merchants on crime prevention, vehicle burglary, vandalism and an overview of the police departments new security camera program.
Information on dealing with Manteca’s homeless population and associated crime came from Community Resource Officer Mike Kelly. As the focus rotated every 15 minutes from table to table it was noted that statistics showed that crime in Manteca hits a high point nightly between 2 and 5 a.m.
Kelly also provided information on the city’s municipal code as it relates to the homeless. He also explained how the existing homeless task force works and what efforts are being made to combat homelessness in the community. The shop keepers were urged to call the police department if someone is sleeping against their front door. An officer will respond and if that person returns within 24 hours he will be arrested for trespassing, however the shop owner is required to give the police department a letter first saying that no one is allowed to sleep against their door.
Code Enforcement Officer Lane Avilla spoke on the current municipal codes related to the concerns of business.
Detective David Bright explained the planned use of drones in the community noting they are not being used for surveillance.
Further questions should be sent to Lt. Stephen Schluer of the Community Outreach Unit at 456-8210.
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