Pinole proposes crime fighting plan

August 20, 2008 6:51:42 PM PDT
Police in Pinole have a problem: how to stop a dramatic rise in robberies with a relatively small number of officers on the street.

The Garden of Gems Jewelry store is near the Pinole Police Station, and the robber didn't care.

"She came in and locked my top lock of my door and locked me and her inside," said store owner LeAnn Miller.

Miller's store was just robbed on Friday.

"If I would have confronted her, I don't know what would have happened," said Miller.

Miller and about 100 merchants and residents attended a police crime prevention meeting after a rash of robberies in the area since January.

"We've had 38 robberies which have taken place in the city of Pinole," said Pinole Police Chief Jim Rose.

The robbers did not discriminate among businesses.

"Retail stores, the convenience and liquor stores, fast food, gas stations," said Rose.

Chief Rose says the robberies are getting more violent.

"There's a little bit more of an increase in weapons being used in the street robberies," said Rose.

Just ask Wylie Henry who delivers bread. He was robbed twice in two months by armed assailants. One incident happened at Nations Hamburgers.

"They were masked, carrying 45's, big guns at least, and threatened me, told me to get down on the floor and robbed me," said Henry.

Pinole is a small town of only 20,000 people. It straddles the I-80 corridors. Police believe many of the robbers come from surrounding cities with high crime rates.

With only three patrol officers at any given time, Pinole police need the help of its citizens.

So this training session was important.

"They are the eyes and ears of the police department," said Pinole Mayor Pete Murray.

Pinole police also want the crooks to know that this is one of the most photographed cities in the Bay Area.

Pinole was one of the first in the Bay Area to install security cameras on its streets. Today, 45 newly converted digital cameras look over the city's five square miles.

They can zoom into license plates and even stop crime in progress.

"There was a sexual assault occurring in the park and it just happened as we were watching the park and our officers were able to go over and stop it," said Pinole Police Commander Peter Janke.


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