The Petaluma Police Department has formed a new property crimes unit in response to an uptick in commercial burglaries over the past year.
In doing so, it's partnering with the California Highway Patrol, which will station one officer at the department over the next year and assist the agency in investigating home and business break-ins, and metal thefts from local businesses and the city’s corp yard, according to police spokesman Lt. Tim Lyons.
CHP already frequently collaborates with Petaluma police to assist with DUI enforcement, gang cases and probation.
Still, the department is "very appreciative" of CHP sending one of their own, Officer Blair Hardcastle, to lend a hand, Lyons said.
In recent months, police have been stretched by an increase in burglaries of businesses along East Washington Street and North McDowell Street. In many of the instances, the thief smashed the window and stole the cash register. Less than two months on the job, Officer Hardcastle has already made a high-profile arrest, last week apprehending a Petaluma man implicated in dozens of car break-ins in Bodega.
The property crimes unit will also be looking into car thefts, of which there have been five since the start of the year, including two large vans stolen just this week.
“It appears someone is targeting work-type vans and then stealing the tools,” said Lt. Tim Lyons, a police spokesman.
To help residents report crimes easier, department has started offering online police reports for non-violent, non-emergency incidents, a move spearheaded by new police chief Patrick Williams.
It's also launching a new crime tip line where residents can call in and anonymously report suspicious activity. The number is 707-781-1200. Tips can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
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