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Some residents say there's a theft crime wave going on in Chico.
And they don't think the police are doing much to stop it.
A number of people are using social media sites to express their frustration with the perceived rise in theft, and a common complaint is that when it happens, they're not getting any face time from law enforcement.
"This is, i think, a newer phenomenon for everyone," said William Caput, who's lived in Chico for 8 years, but has only noticed a theft problem this year.
"I recovered a bike about a month ago, a found stolen bike, that belonged to someone i knew. I confronted them, held them, called 9-1-1, they told me an officer would be coming. No one showed up," said Caput.
This after his own son's bike was stolen sparked his concern about the problem.
"I've looked at the Chico crimes stats and it's like 16 -20 bikes a week being stolen, and that's the ones that are reported," Caput explained.
In the past few years, the Chico Police Department implemented an online theft report system.
"The calls are triaged ... Prioritized," explained Ed Nelson, Crime Prevention Officer at Chico PD. "The most serious crimes get attention first. Crimes where they're cold, where theres no suspect information, no way to investigate it, those are the ones that get referenced to 'Cop Logic', the online investigating system."
But not everyone agrees with the police department's priorities.
"I don't see in the past year much interest in serving the public," said Caput. "They're looking into college students for noise complaints, where they can issue citations and get guaranteed money."
But police say money has nothing to do with it.
"Underage drinking is a safety issue, those people can put themselves in harm’s way, they can be victims of rape or theft. Contacting those people who are breaking the law by being intoxicated in public? That is stopping a crime before it happens, that is protecting our citizens, that's important," said Nelson.
Some residents feel that jail overcrowding and a growing transient problem could be to blame, particularly when it comes to bike theft.
"They're doing it in plain sight, I saw people disassembling bikes in the downtown city plaza. They're basically doing it without any consequences," said Caput.
"Yes, there is a lot of that going around and yes, probably some of them are stolen, but we just don't have the resources to stop and talk to every single person working on a bicycle," Nelson explained. "We still do police work, we do the job of arresting people. We send them to jail, but what happens after that is out of our hands."
Police say they're doing what they can, but residents can be pro-active as well.
"Lock what's important to you, write down the serial number if it's an expensive item that's serialized. Lock up everything, don't leave the temptation in your yard or your car," Nelson advised.
But Caput says just protecting your own property won't make Chico a better place to live.
"It's out of hand," Caput worried. "It's changing the way of life in the community."
Police advise residents to always report theft; the online reports give them guidelines for specific areas and neighborhoods to keep an eye on.
In addition, if your property is recovered, they'll be able to get it back to you as soon as possible.
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