BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Valley Plaza Mall in Bakersfield is home to more than a dozen jewelry stores and kiosks, but one owner is fed up with retail theft.
“You’re hurting the person you steal from, and not only that, but you’re creating bad Karma for yourself,” said Giovanni Constanza, owner of both Giovanni’s and CoExist.
The jewelry kiosk owner says teenagers continue to rob him in large numbers with force and intimidation.
“Instead of putting it back, they’ll get mad, and they’ll want to fight you cause you caught them,” said Constanza. “So, sometimes it makes you nervous to even tell them something, but we have to because we can’t allow, you know, the stealing to keep going on.”
Constanza says $10,000 of merchandise was stolen in the last burglary, and they even took the rosaries.
“We’ve had some problems here before where kids didn’t want to leave, and I had to call the police like five times,” said Constanza. “They didn’t get here ’til, like, four hours later, until somebody had already got hurt.”
Constanza says mall security does a great job protecting his store, but they can’t make arrests. He says he wants tougher laws sending criminals to jail, and also wants more police presence during school breaks, so he won’t dread the holiday shopping season.
“One officer here shouldn’t be too bad, at least at Christmas time, and when they get out of school during the summertime. Those are the worst times,” said Constanza.
Sergeant Andrew Tipton with the Bakersfield Police Department says police respond to 911 calls in the order they are received by priority, and the first priority is safety.
According to Tipton, you have the right to defend your property with a reasonable amount of force, and the right to pass all information to the police. His recommendation for stores facing organized retail theft is to unite with other store owners when facing a threat.
Tipton says in previous years, holiday enforcement has been implemented to keep everyone safe at local shopping centers, and he says that probably won’t change.