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Businesses band together to fight crime

Business owners in Grass Valley are banding together to guard their livelihoods from crime with the help of local police, who are providing tips to mitigate exposure to criminals.

“I’m locking my house now, and I never used to,” said Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster to a handful of business owners at a meeting Friday. 

“We all have to do our part to secure our own property,” he said. 



All of the business owners on hand Friday reported multiple crimes to their businesses in recent months and were advised by a handful of local law authorities from both the Grass Valley Police Department and the Nevada County Sheriff’s Office on a multitude of preventative and recuperative tactics. 

Among the more common crimes against area businesses that authorities identified are car theft, gas sifting and burglaries of everything from tools and electronics to parts and recyclable metals, such as copper.




“These are not your sophisticated criminals,” said Corp. Brian Blakemore of the GVPD, whose parents own Agate Sales on East Bennett Road.

“These are criminals who try to take what is easiest,” Blakemore said. “We want to make it more difficult.”

Blakemore acted as the point man Friday, making himself available to area businesses to report crimes and make everyone aware of crimes. 

“I have watched my parents get victimized, and it is frustrating,” Blakemore said. “But I’m willing to step up and work with you.”

Both GVPD and the sheriff’s office offered to assess business’ security, as well as train employees on protecting property.

Greg Peters of Peters Well Drilling offered to start an email list of area businesses to help keep one another apprised of when crimes occur and what is taken. 

Officers in attendance said this will help neighboring businesses protect themselves and help authorities become aware of patterns.

On Dec. 4, Waste Management of Nevada County launched a community safety and crime watch partnership with local law enforcement agencies throughout the Nevada County area. Its employees are being trained to spot crimes and help act as the eyes of local law enforcement. 

“What works is us all working together,” Blakemore said. 

Officers also advised business owners of preventative techniques Friday. 

While alarms, security cameras and even lighting were discussed, some of the less immediately apparent tactics involved trimming trees to increase visibility and marking and cataloguing business property, Blakemore said.

“I’m always telling my folks to keep a file of all the serial numbers of everything they own,” Blakemore said. 

In addition to serial numbers, Blakemore said that marking products, especially tools, will help officers return stolen items once they are recovered. Blakemore advised that small tools be painted a bright color, such as pink, or that heavy tools be engraved with an insignia to increase their likelihood of being returned if stolen.

“It makes it more noticeable and, therefore, less likely to be an attractive target,” Blakemore said. “I highly recommend that all companies identify their tools.”

If crooks can’t see valuables, they are less likely to search for them, said GVPD Sgt. Steve Johnson. Often the items that are stolen are those seen from a window or left out in the open, such as laptops and other electronics. Johnson advised either locking them away or simply having shades block criminals’ view from windows.

While cameras help, how those devices are placed is equally important, Blakemore said.

Cameras too high won’t catch a face beneath a hood or cap or a license plate, Blakemore cautioned. 

“A lot of times we can tell from footage who the perpetrator is just by the way they walk,” Blakemore said. “However, all that person has to do is say, ‘That isn’t me,’ (in court), and we can’t get them for it.”

Cameras that are well hidden can keep criminals from knowing they are being watched, Blakemore said, and catch them off guard. On the other hand, prominent surveillance, even posted signs warning that someone is being watched, can itself be a deterrent. 

“Any deterrents you can make that don’t cost you a monthly check that makes you a less attractive target helps,” Blakemore said.

Crimes, such as theft, against businesses tend to be committed by homeless individuals, drug addicts and professional criminals, Blakemore noted. 

“We are sensitive to the fact that not all homeless are problematic,”Foster said. “But if you are one of the ones that is spoiling it for everyone, you need to move on.”

Not all criminals are physically dangerous; however, Foster cautioned that if someone is uncomfortable confronting a supsected individual, leave him to the proper authorities. 

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.


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