Latest police logs show car burglaries – with windows smashed out – on the rise in Chico

11 Sep

Almost a month ago, my husband and I encountered broken glass littering the ground at the park entrance there where Centennial meets Chico Canyon Road.  It was obvious cars had been broken into, at least four of them, right there at a popular parking lot in full view of the road. 

I was shocked that a person had just driven right up and parked on top of an obvious crime scene.

This picture was taken the morning of August 19. I was shocked that a person had just driven right up and parked on top of an obvious crime scene.

There were about a half dozen newer model cars parked there, never mind the scattered safety glass.  I wondered if people realize how many cars are broken into in various parts of the park and surrounding areas, and I’ve been watching the police logs run in the Enterprise Record. 

I was shocked to see what appears to be a jump in crime, specifically vehicle burglaries. Maybe they’re reporting better? Today I saw a lot more stuff listed than I’ve seen over the last few weeks. 

For example, did you know, there were 16 vehicle burglaries reported in the paper for the period of six days between September 4 and September 9? A vehicle burglary means something was taken without the owner’s permission from within the car, whether the car was broken into by force or the thief got in through an unlocked door or window. If the car got stolen, that’s a vehicle theft. In 10 of those vehicle burglaries, the cars were broken into, 9 of them through a smashed window. Maybe you read the blog in which I posted this video:

This is so for real, “ninja rocks”, or ceramic or porcelain spark plug chips or pieces”, were added to the California burglary code, possession a misdemeanor worth six months in jail or a $1,000 fine:

When I wrote that last blog a month ago, I realized, something like that is so easy to carry and dispose of, good luck ever catching anybody with them. You’d have to catch a fella in his sleep, catch him at something else illegal – say, illegal camping – and find things like that through a legal search.

The cops have been rousting bums at One Mile lately, it’s their latest campaign. They come in about 5 am and, I’m assuming, sweep the picnic tables and the ball field, maybe the roads and bigger trails directly around One Mile, with flashlights. So far I think they’ve busted about half dozen illegal campers, including some people with warrants or in possession of drugs. But no “ninja rocks” so far. 

Critics have pointed out that One Mile isn’t the only place the bums are camping. There are camps all through the over grown muck from Sycamore Pool to Five Mile, and beyond. You see the garbage littering the blackberry stands, toilet paper fluttering gaily from a dead  tree branch,  backpacks/bindles stuffed into the bushes along the dirt trails, stashed away for the owner to pick up later? I’ve seen a lot of abandoned underwear, just hanging in the bushes. 

This morning about 9am we were riding some trails in Middle Park, just below Manzanita Ave, when we smelled a wet campfire. I know there was a fire in town, but this was close, and very wet. I suspect people are camping without fear in the vast overgrowth between the creek and Vallombrosa, and I don’t know if the cops are going in there. I’m afraid they focus their efforts in areas like One Mile, and they’re just pushing the illegal campers farther up into the park. When the focused on the Downtown area they pushed them onto the Mangrove corridor and into those neighborhoods along Mangrove and Vallombrosa. 

The first thing I would say is, I’m not talking about the truly needy, or the mentally ill, I’m talking about the criminal element that swims among those others and even predates on them.

I believe the police could be more aggressive in enforcing the laws against camping on public property – that would seem simple enough. It’s covered in the city code, first in Title 9 – “Public Peace, Safety and Morals”,   “Except as otherwise provided in this Chapter, it is unlawful and a public nuisance for any person to camp or occupy camp facilities on any public property or any private property which is not operated and maintained as a campground in conformance with the regulations set forth in Title 19 of this code.”

‘Camp’ means to place, pitch or occupy camp facilities; to live temporarily in a camp facility or outdoors.”  And, “’Camp facilities’ include, but are not limited to, tents, huts, vehicles, recreational vehicles, or temporary shelters”

I will say, the definitions seem to indicate there’s some sort of structure involved. Does this leave a loophole for the bum who sleeps on the ground under the stars? I don’t think so. I think that’s covered under the prohibition on “Depositing Foreign Matter in Public Ways,” which prohibits leaving “any glass, broken wares, hay, straw, dirt, rubbish, garbage, waste matter, filth, butcher’s offal, or branches of trees” laying around on public or private property. 

Vice Mayor Sean Morgan, Busy Bee he is, is proposing to “broaden” the “Sit and Lie” ordinance passed a couple of years ago, (which pretty simply prohibits people from laying on sidewalks Downtown) to our parks and riparian areas, even the grass around City Hall.

The City of Chico (“City”) currently has an Ordinance Prohibiting Sitting and Lying on Sidewalks in Specified Areas (“Obstruction Ordinance”); however, the City Staff recommends adoption of the attached Ordinance to broaden the language of the existing Ordinance to eliminate potential obstructions to the public right-of-way and interference with public property. Furthermore, the proposed Ordinance will designate City Hall and the immediate surrounding area as the City’s Civic Center and allow and prohibit a set of uses that preserve government and civic functions. Lastly, the City does not have regulations in place to protect its creeks, tributaries, riparian corridors and associated natural resources. The proposed Ordinance will create comprehensive regulations specifically prohibiting deleterious activities, such as: disturbing natural resources; staying or camping overnight; entering unauthorized areas; possessing alcoholic beverages; littering and illegal dumping; urinating and defecating; and discharging weapons and fireworks, in the City’s waterways.

First of all, I think our current code covers the problem, makes it pretty clear. Why they had to spend more money having the law consultant write this up is beyond me. Second of all, I’m not really sure what I think of the part where “the proposed Ordinance will designate City Hall and the immediate surrounding area as the City’s Civic Center and allow and prohibit a set of uses that preserve government and civic functions.”  

So, who gets to pick and choose which activities are appropriate for the open space around city hall? I don’t like the sound of that.

When Chico PD screamed for Sit and Lie, I happened to find an article from 10 years ago in the News and Review, regarding a similar ordinance they’d passed way back then, an ordinance that specifically banned lying on sidewalks, panhandling within certain specific boundaries, and many of the other activities the cops were ignoring. They said they needed a stricter ordinance. I didn’t get that, and I don’t get this. 

I do notice, crime is getting worse and worse in Chico. 



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