I can tell you with certainty why Modesto is #1 in auto thefts.
On April 29th, 2014, the night clerk at a hotel in Modesto saw someone drive into the hotel parking lot, park their car and walk across the street to another hotel. Watching the cameras, she saw him walk back and forth from the other hotel to his parked car several times. She contacted the security guard and asked him to keep an eye on the car and the person. Some time later the security guard came and gave the night clerk a description of the man. She called the other hotel and gave them the description. They knew who it was and what room he was in. They were asked to contact the man and ask him to move his car off the first hotel’s property. They did that but he did not move the car. A few hours later our night clerk called back and asked the hotel to relay the message that if the car wasn’t removed, it would be towed. His response to that was “I don’t care about that car.” That made our night clerk suspicious, so she called MPD with the license plate number and they informed her that the car had been reported as stolen. They sent Officer Hoke to investigate.
Officer Hoke spoke to both our security guard and our night clerk. He was concerned because there was no actual video of the man getting in and out of the car because it wasn’t in view of the camera. The security guard informed him that he had personally witnessed it and had provided a description of the man to both hotels. The officer returned to his car and after a while the security guard approached him and asked if he was going to do anything. Officer Hoke responded “Oh, man…it’s too much paperwork..you’re killing me, just let it go”. When the guard reported this to our night clerk, she called 911 to report a stolen car on our property. They told her they would send a squad out and she told them an officer was already here and refusing to do anything. That resulted in two more squad cars coming to the hotel. The officers then went (with Officer Hoke) across the street to the other hotel and returned with the man who had been in the car. They placed him in a squad car and they all left. We assumed he would be arrested for auto theft.
As required by his company, the security guard has to include police case numbers and details whenever he has any interaction with law enforcement. He called MPD the day after the incident to get the case number. He was told there was no case. Even if the man had convinced the officers that he didn’t actually steal the car, he was still in possession of a stolen car. I thought being in possession of stolen property was a crime, but apparently not in Modesto! And even though there was no video of the man getting in and out of the car, why isn’t an eyewitness account (from a security guard who is employed by a licensed security company) enough to arrest someone for being in possession of stolen property?
I have to wonder if there was “no case” because MPD wished to protect Officer Hoke, who failed to do his job.
I was downtown at city hall today and saw signs posted on the walls that say “If you see something….tell someone.” The signs go on to say that if you see something suspicious you should report it to the police. Well, our night clerk and security guard certainly saw something, they reported it, and MPD failed to take any action.
So the next time you see us being reported as #1 in auto theft…it’s no wonder why. Don’t you think the thieves know that if they get caught stealing a car (or being in possession of a stolen car), they know they won’t be arrested/prosecuted? If your car is stolen, please don’t bother MPD with it. They are too busy avoiding doing any paperwork!