Police are hunting a bicycle-riding burglar thought to be responsible for stealing “thousands and thousands” of dollars worth of cigarettes in northwest Fresno.
The thefts took place at a car wash at Herndon and West avenues and a gas station at Bullard and Palm, it was disclosed at the Fresno Police Department Crime View session Wednesday as police provide updates on crime trends in the city. (NOTE: The original version of this story incorrectly reported that the gas station was at Bullard and West.)
Chief Jerry Dyer also reported that homicides are down 47 percent, from 38 at this time last year to 20 as of Wednesday. In addition, burglary crimes of property have dropped 28 percent and auto theft is down 27.6 percent, Dyer said.
Cigarette taxes have soared by $2 a pack since 2017 because of new state taxes. That appears to fuel the motivation for the burglaries.
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Lt. Joe Gomez said the suspect rides a two-tone bicycle and carries a yellow pry bar. He has hit businesses repeatedly.
At the session, Dyer also provided details on a series of predawn armed robberies by a car full of suspects that ended when police took six people into custody.
A woman was at the wheel of the car involved in the alleged robberies, and the bandits appeared to target victims they happened across as they rolled through the city. In the 1400 block of West Ashlan Avenue, a truck driver stocking a liquor store was robbed of his jacket, keys and other items by a passenger who brandished what turned out to be a pellet gun. At West and Emerson avenues, a woman collecting cans was confronted by the gang, but she had nothing of value to give up to the suspects.
Police caught up with the car in the 1300 block of West Fountain Way and took the suspects into custody.