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Bakersfield businesses demand more security against repeated 'low-level' crimes

People in both the Bakersfield city government and Bakersfield law enforcement say part of the problem is repeat offenders not being held accountable.
sign on luigi's restaurant door after vandalism
Posted at 5:04 PM, Jul 03, 2023
and last updated 2023-07-03 21:50:34-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Over the past weekend in Bakersfield, two Downtown businesses were vandalized, leaving the owners demanding more security. One of the businesses, with its windows now boarded over, is Luigi's Restaurant and Delicatessen in Old Town Kern.

RELATED: Luigi's Restaurant and Delicatessen vandalized again

"The sad thing is it happens often. I mean, we put it in the business plan," said Luigi's owner Gino Valpredo.

According to Valpredo, by the time he arrived at his restaurant after learning of the vandalism, four Bakersfield Police officers had arrested the man who kicked in their window.

Valpredo says the chaotic evening left one of his bartenders fearful after closing the restaurant by herself.

"I mean, there was just so much commotion going on, and then as the arrest for him was going on, someone came across the street, threw a mug of coffee in one of the officers' face, so they had to arrest that person and chase them down," said Valpredo. "So it was just like, it was pandemonium, and we had 2 broken windows, and my bartender inside was pretty scared."

Bakersfield Police Department Sergeant Robert Pair says vandalism rates in the city have increased significantly from previous years, with a large number of repeat offenders.

"What we're seeing is the entirely predictable outcome of a lack of accountability for what some say are low-level offenses," said Pair.

Valpredo has left a sign on his broken window asking City Councilman Andrae Gonzales to address these repeated issues.

In response, Gonzales says the city budgeted to add 2 additional officers dedicated to surveilling the Downtown area, an addition the councilman says has been 6 to 9 months in the making.

"We will now have 23 officers beginning July 1, and 2 of them will be dedicated to Downtown and Old Town Kern. 40 hours a week focused on Downtown. In addition to that, we have a community relations specialist that will be dedicated to Downtown," said Gonzales.

Both Gonzales and Pair empathize with the city's frustration, but they say the intersection of mental health issues and substance abuse contributes to these acts of vandalism.

In addition to addressing what he calls systemic behavioral health issues, Gonzales suggests a need for increased capacity in the Kern County Jail to hold repeat offenders accountable for their crimes, something he says isn't happening right now.

"Being released within 3 hours is not accountability. Even low-level felonies are being released very quickly," said Gonzales. "We need a better response."

According to California state law, misdemeanor vandalism can be punishable by up to 1 year in the county jail, a fine of up to $1,000, and in some cases both. Felony vandalism can be punishable by up to 3 years in state prison, a fine of up to $50,000, or both.

Valpredo says he hopes to see increased police presence in Old Town Kern to deter another incident like this.

"When they are around here, it's a night and day difference. People behave themselves, and even when we have the presence of a security guard or somebody else, it's not always great, but it's generally much better," said Valpredo.

The Bakersfield Police Department encourages other business and property owners who have been victims of crimes like these to report them by calling BPD at 327-7111.


The property crime rate isn't just on the rise in Kern County. It has also increased across the state recently.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, the state's property crime rate increased by 2.4 percent between 2020 and 2021.

Of all reported property crimes in California in 2021, 63 percent were larceny thefts (thefts where there is no break-in, such as shoplifting), 16 percent were burglaries (break-ins with the intent to commit theft), and 21 percent were auto thefts.