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Modesto warns of robbery trend

POSTED November 12, 2010 8:41 p.m.
The Modesto Police Department is seeing an increase in “street robberies” and in response they are reorganizing their resources to catch the crooks, as well as offering some tips to avoid becoming a victim.Since July 2010, Modesto Police began to see a rising number of reported robberies.  Although the overall Part I Crime in Modesto is down 5 percent, Modesto has seen a 21.9 percent increase in the category of robbery, when comparing the number of reported robberies last year-to-date to this year-to-date.Many of the recent robberies consisted of “street robberies,” which involve victims who were robbed of their personal property while they were walking alone at night or at a park after hours.  The department has reallocated resources and placed more of a concentrated focus, department-wide, on this latest trend.  “We want to be able to stem the problem and reduce the number of robberies by placing a full court press on the offenders”, said Lt. Bill Ryan, who is the Investigative services assistant commander.  “Investigators will be working hand in hand with patrol officers, records clerks, and our Crime Analysis Unit in order to identify these criminals and impact this arising issue.”     The recent robberies have occurred throughout Modesto, and most have been random, with suspects ranging in race and age, although many suspects were described as being in their early to late teens and early to mid 20s.  Investigators have found a few common themes with many of these robberies, and, as a result, have provided some basic tips:•      Always be aware of your surroundings. Whether you’re in a shopping center parking lot, walking down the street, or just relaxing in a local park.  Be aware of your surroundings. Avoid dim lit areas or secluded areas and be mindful of the people around you. .  •      Trust your instincts. If you feel uncomfortable with someone who approaches you or begins to talk to you, trust your instincts, and simply walk away.      • .      Travel with a friend, if possible. If you have to go out late at night to the store or for an evening walk, ask a family member or friend to join you.  It is a great way to spend time with someone you enjoy and at the same time provide a deterrent to a “would be” thief.    •          Stay away from parks after hours. All city parks close at 10 p.m.  Although parks may appear to be a “cool” place to hangout after hours by teens and young adults, secluded and dim lit areas are also the perfect scene for a crime.   •          Be wary of strangers approaching you and asking for the time or if they can borrow your cellular phone. Several of the recent robbery victims have said that prior to being robbed, the suspect approached them and asked for the time or asked to borrow a cellular phone.  This is often a technique thieves use to determine if a victim has something of value.   •          Women, avoid leaving your purse in the shopping cart. Although it may be convenient to place your purse in a shopping cart as you’re pushing a cart in the shopping center parking lot, it is not recommended.  Thieves commit crimes of opportunity.  Thieves will often seek opportunities, such as an unsecured purse on or in a shopping cart, and take it!  Keep your purse on your shoulder or in your hands at all times.    To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail sstafford@turlockjournal.com or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.

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