Los Gatos Police Say Downtown Crime Decreased In 2013


Crime in downtown Los Gatos decreased from 2012 to 2013, from 81 to 63 reported incidents. Police shared these statistics with merchants at a March 20 safety meeting that was sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce. The downtown reporting area goes well beyond Santa Cruz Avenue and Main Street. Police noted that it encompasses the Almond Grove and Alberto Way neighborhoods and stretches to Los Gatos Boulevard at Highway 9, as well as to the civic center and Los Gatos High School.

The safety meeting was conducted by Police Capt. Mike D’Antonio, Cpl. Kalipo Kauweloa, and community outreach coordinator Jackie Rose, who offered the merchants advice on ways to stop crime, particularly shoplifters.

Kauweloa noted that there are two types of shoplifters, most of whom come from out of town: the professionals who steal for resale profit and the amateurs who "often have the money to pay for what they steal." He added that juvenile shoplifters often steal "on a dare to see if they can get away with it."

Whatever the reason, Kauweloa said customer service is the best way to prevent thefts.

"Make eye contact with customers because shoplifters will think you’re more liable to recognize them," he said. He also said people who suspect a shoplifter is in their store should look at the individual’s shoes. "Savvy thieves will change their clothes, but it’s tough to change shoes," Kauweloa said.

Merchants who have cameras are encouraged to place them at staggered heights and put up signs letting people know they’re being monitored. “If we can get a good frontal photo of a criminal, we can get a hit on facial recognition,” D’Antonio said.

Police also encouraged merchants to join the new video surveillance group On Watch. Both businesses and residents with outdoor cameras are asked to visit joinonwatch.com and register their cameras with the town. If a crime occurs near a known camera, police can review the footage for suspect descriptions. “It’s completely confidential,” Rose said. “If we can get a picture and visual out to merchants, a lot of times we’ll capture” the criminals.

At night when stores are closed, merchants should keep dim lighting turned on so police can peer inside if an alarm goes off or other suspicious activity is observed. That said, Kauweloa added, “A lot of times at night we’ll get alarm calls because doors have been left unlocked.” […]

Source: mercurynews.com