State Funding Helps South Bay Police Protect Holiday Shoppers

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Holiday thieves beware.

Thanks to gift of state cash, South Bay law enforcement has a new plan to protect shopping mall parking lots from car burglars.

San Jose police received a $750,000 grant from the state and are using it to increase awareness of "smash-and-grab" crimes. In addition, the department will put officers in mall parking lots who are strictly looking for thieves.

"One of the goals is not only to educate people and prevent them from being victims, but also apprehending and arresting those people that are responsible for this rash of car thefts affecting the entire Bay Area," said Chris Camarillo, SJPD officer.

Similar grants were also given to Santa Clara, Milpitas, Fremont and Newark.

San Jose has crime prevention specialists talking to shoppers inside while officers, often in foot, look for exposed valuables in cars outside.

Eastridge Mall officials welcome the police presence to augment its own holiday security.

"We have multiple security vehicles that patrol the lot 24-7," said Rah Riley, Eastridge Mall marketing director. "And then we have a state of the art new video surveillance."

Police said the added security is necessary because groups of thieves often swarm a parking lot waiting for officers to leave. This year, those officers aren't going away.

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