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Packed house at Midtown crime meeting

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With the public on edge after a recent spree of armed pedestrian robberies in Midtown, law enforcement leaders fielded questions at a forum Thursday night in hopes of quelling residents’ fears.

It was standing-room only at the Hart Senior Centerm, with about 200 people present as Sacramento Police Department Cpt. Ken Bernard and Lt. Marc Coopwood addressed the robberies, as well as other crimes that affect those on the grid.

"Nobody’s more frustrated than we are that we can’t provide the services we want to," Bernard said, regarding cuts to the department.

But despite the elimination of entire units in recent years, people should still report crime so there’s a record and police can identify trends, which ultimately affects the number of police allocated to patrol specific areas of the city, he said.

"When we do have incidents, we notice it," said Councilman Steve Hansen, who organized the forum.

Questions and concerns ranged from installing video surveillance, to how to deal with the homeless, to how the police will use the funds generated from the passage of Measure U to rebuild the department.

But right now – with no traffic, gang, vice (prostitution, gambling and drugs), or parolee enforcement units – Bernard said police are focusing on how to best patrol the city given their limited resources.

Pedestrian robberies on the grid

Bernard said there were 13 pedestrian robberies on the grid between Dec. 16, 2012, and Jan. 6, 2013. While two men have been arrested and are suspected of being involved in four of the armed robberies, they haven’t been positively identified by witnesses, he said.

There has been an increased police presence in the area – though it’s temporary – and other than homicide and sexual assault, robberies are a top priority for the department, Bernard said.

To avoid becoming a victim, Coopwood advised people to walk in pairs or in groups, carry pepper spray, and to avoid wearing flashy jewelry.

"Make sure you have your wits about you," Hansen said, noting that even if you’ve had a drink, it’s smart to have a friend walk you home if possible.

If you do become a victim, Bernard said to be a be a good witness, and to pay attention to cars and faces. While clothing can be changed, cars can’t so easily, he said.

Vehicle burglaries

There has been an increase in vehicle break-ins, particularly on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights, according to Bernard. "You can’t leave anything in your car," he said.

The problem is probably a bigger than the numbers show, because not all of these incidents are reported to police, Coopwood said.

Bicycle theft

Bicycle theft occurs more frequently in the central city due to the high concentration of riders, and is one of the more difficult crimes to investigate, given the frequent lack of identifying information on bicycles. Coopwood suggested not only using the serial number as an identifier, but also engraving your California driver license number on your bike.

How to reach the police

While some crimes – such as a bicycle theft – may require you to fill out an online report, others can be reported over the phone or an officer will come to your residence to take the report. The Sac PD’s non-emergency line is (916) 264-5471, and the emergency number is (916) 732-0100.

If you call 911, you’ll reach the California Highway Patrol dispatch center. 

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