Residents frustrated by SJPD burglary response

June 7, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
Residents in one San Jose neighborhood are frustrated by the job police are doing. They say the drop in police staffing is leaving them vulnerable and making them do the work of officers.

Residents say since March there has been six to eight break-ins within a four-block radius in the Berryessa neighborhood of San Jose. Residents blame not just the burglars, but the police as well.

Burglars stole guitars, laptops, cameras, and jewelry from a home at the end of May. That happened just weeks after the same thing happened across the street at another house.

"We're frustrated because of the fact a lot of neighbors have complained that they've also been burglarized and yet it seems like the police aren't willing to track down who this is," said "Yasmine," a burglary victim who does not want to be identified. She says police ignored some fingerprints in the home she's sure belong to the burglar. "It's like we have to do our own work, when clearly there are fingerprint marks that can identify who they are."

According to police, it's not that simple. First, there's the city's budget issue that's caused department downsizing.

"We have six burglary detectives for a city of a million people and on average they get anywhere from 200-300 residential burglary cases a month," said San Jose Police Sgt. Jason Dwyer.

Four years ago, there were 12 burglary detectives. The fingerprints are blamed on a statewide database backlog, where prints from violent crimes are processed first.

"If it's property crime and we don't have any suspect information, it could take two to three years, which is a long time," said Dwyer.

"Unless we can get more police out here, it's on us for now," said Bill Otto, a Berryessa resident.

That's, unfortunately, the take-away message for many in this neighborhood. They are tax payers who feel the system is working against them.

"They're afraid to leave their houses now because they're not sure what's going to happen," said Otto.

The police also say unless there's a witness, or the burglar leaves some evidence behind, or it's a string of break-ins, most burglaries in this city get shelved.

We also should mention the staffing levels are way down. Four years ago there were 1,400 police officers on the streets of San Jose and today there are 1,063.


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