SAN JOSE (KPIX) – A newly-created law enforcement team may help the San Jose Police Department put more thieves behind bars.

Short-staffed for years, San Jose police have barely investigated and rarely solved property crimes, much to the frustration of victims.

“Being the victim of a car theft in the past — having lost my camera and having almost lost my dog — I think it’s important that they definitely allocate more resources,” said Christopher Cardenas.

Yet with the department currently at 1,070 officers and expected to climb quickly above 1,100, property crimes have become a renewed priority.

“We know that the highest priority is violent and predatory crimes,” said San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo. “But the quality of life of our neighborhoods is critically important as well. And as we’re restoring staffing in our police department, we’re able to deploy specialized units like these.”

The police department has a created a Burglary Prevention Unit consisting of a sergeant, a probation officer and eight detectives. Their focus is catching the handful of criminals that investigators believe are behind the vast majority of property crimes.

The police department and the Mayor say thieves are smart enough to know which crimes aren’t a priority, which crimes aren’t actively and aggressively investigated. And often, those are the crimes people commit because they know they’re unlikely to get caught.

“I’ve had my own house burglarized a couple times in the last decade,” said Mayor Liccardo. “We all know the sense of frustration and violation there. So, it’s important for us to get ahead and it’s important for us to use the latest tools.”

The police department hopes the investment in money and manpower will make a dent in the property crimes that have plagued the city in recent years.

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