WALNUT CREEK (KPIX) — In response to the ransacking of the Walnut Creek Nordstrom store last month, the Walnut Creek City Council recently approved a $2 million budget boost to more police officers on the streets in the hopes of easing concerns of business owners and shoppers.

At Broadway Plaza on Friday afternoon, there was a steady of flow of holiday shoppers on the sidewalks. While many have Christmas presents on their minds, they also are much more aware of their surroundings and safety this season.

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“It’s definitely something you kind of go, ‘Hmmmm, is it safe? Is going to happen now in broad daylight?'” said shopper Nicole Kenyon.

Shopper Valerie Allum-Poom said she is keeping a watchful eye out.

“Interesting you ask, because on my way over today, I did think about this and I guess I just hope for the best and I come at a time there is nothing bad going on,” she said.

Barriers remain in place to keep cars off Broadway Plaza, and a Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department SUV parked nearby also serves as a visual deterrent at one of the entrances.

The barriers and increased law enforcement presence are part of the stepped-up security after the November 20th smash-and-grab robbery involving more than 80 suspects. The event still fresh on the minds of many

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“When that night happened, I was traumatized myself,” one Nordstrom employee who works at the Broadway Plaza location told KPIX. “I was working that night. I left just minutes before the smash and grab, and it was traumatizing.”

Walnut Creek Downtown Executive Director Kathy Hemmenway says a swift move by the Walnut Creek City Council to unanimously approve increased funding for police was a direct response to the Nordstrom smash-and-grab robbery.

She explained the $2 million will pay for five new police officers and increases the department’s overtime budget. It went into effect immediately.

“We have had wonderful support, and our foot traffic is going up and sales have been going up. So positive and a good increase for a downtown businesses,” said Hemmenway. “All of our shoppers definitely should be feeling safe.”

Walnut Creek has always been a town where many residents thought they would never see this type of crime.

“It’s just surprising that something is happening in our little home town where we always felt safe,” said Allum-Poom.

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“Honestly, we feel safe in general. And they have stepped up security at Nordstrom, so we feel good,” a Nordstrom employee told KPIX.

Juliette Goodrich