In Hollister, the three small businesses I work with have lost a dozen pieces of equipment over the past three years. Two of the thefts were felony-sized. The bottom line is, Hollister is equipment theft central and with zero police focus or effort on these thefts it has become common and an active underground market in the area.
Other cities have started police sting operations using Craigslist and in some cases have returned 8 out of 10 stolen items. In Hollister, not so much, actually very little police effort is used on these crimes. Our local homeless and drug crews find easy pickings and easy selling. So we have an effective drag on local businesses and a boon for the local thieves.
These thieves are bold: In one case coming midday on a Sunday, walking around the site for about 10 minutes, finally finding a door that was not locked and loading out two loads of tools. Walking right under video cameras using a baseball cap and the welder he was stealing to hide his face. In another case, driving through a gate with a truck and trailer of some kind, loading a 400-pound tractor disc and another scraper blade and hauling them away.
It is time that the Business Council, Chamber of Commerce and others partner with local police to attack this drag on the local economy. Equipment theft hurts local business, hurts local job creation and ultimately hurts tax revenues.
Worse, without rigorous processes, often good equipment gets scrapped at the local recycler for quick cash and a drug buy. By creating and marketing San Benito County as a “waste processing hub” we may be encouraging more cash flow through theft and recycling – which destroys the path to conviction.
Focus is an "F" word. When a drunk passes out on Vista Park Hill at least three patrol cars, two fire trucks and an ambulance crew roll and stand around — all to make sure a passed out drunk is safe. Yet when you call in a felony theft of equipment they roll a single officer who does not really even want to fill out a report. The message is clear to small business – the police are more interested in drunks than they are in your equipment or your business.
How about residences – are you experiencing more and bolder thefts?