11/14/2007

Calif. city police patrolling downtown on foot, bikes are making more arrests

By GREG WELTER
Chico Enterprise-Record

CHICO, Calif. — As part of its program to increase visibility downtown, Chico police officers are encouraged to get out of their vehicles and walk around spots like City Plaza and Children's Playground, said Sgt. Dave Barrow.

A downtown bicycle patrol instituted several months ago is another part of that plan, and has already resulted in several arrests, especially for drug activity.

Barrow said the cycling cop, David Bailey, arrested a man just outside the Chico City Council chambers Monday for allegedly selling marijuana to a minor.

While mere police visibility in the downtown area may be the answer to deterring crime in general, Barrow said a recent covert plan was launched to specifically catch bicycle thieves.

"We've had a lot of stolen bikes in the area around Children's Park and at the transit stop across the street," Barrow said. On Nov. 6 Chico police, with the help of Chico State University officers, placed an expensive decoy bicycle in various areas at Children's Playground.

Barrow said the bicycle, a Specialized mountain bike valued at $1,500, appeared to be securely locked, but could be fairly easily taken.

Throughout several hours of surveillance, Barrow said two males attempted to steal the "bait" bike.

One was arrested in the park by an officer on foot.

He was identified as Garret M. Wind, 18, a local transient.

The other male was a juvenile. He was stopped by an officer in a patrol car on The Esplanade, a few blocks from Children's Playground.

Both alleged thieves face grand theft charges, Barrow said.

Barrow said the bicycle stings, and other proactive efforts, will continue in the downtown area.

He said reports of problems with transients in City Plaza have been an ongoing problem, and doesn't believe they're better or worse than before the downtown park was refurbished.  

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