BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — After repeated vandalism incidents across Downtown Bakersfield, the city has launched a new program to help business owners improve security measures. One downtown business owner, Brian Agnetti, president of San Joaquin Tractor, has taken advantage of the grant and hopes the extra security funding will help keep his business safe.
Agnetti says that despite installing a fence and security cameras, he still constantly deals with vandalism and threats to his property, including one incident caught on camera Saturday.
“It’s every single day right now. It used to be every week, week and a half, but it’s every single day right now,” said Agnetti, watching security footage of a person trying to break into his business while telling his camera directly that he intended to steal a tractor.
The footage also includes the would-be robber expressing his belief that he would never be held responsible for the crime he was committing.
Bakersfield Police showed up within minutes of Agnetti’s call and arrested the person, but he says incidents like this happen all the time. The business has already replaced 6 broken windows this year at a cost of $1,700 each.
San Joaquin Tractor has received a $38,000 grant from the City of Bakersfield to build a more secure fence around the property, and Agnetti says he hopes the Business Security Improvements Grant program will provide additional help.
“I feel like this company is good for the city, and I feel like if the city has to step up and pay $5,000 for cameras that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what we do for the city,” said Agnetti.
The Business Security Improvements Grant program offers small businesses and nonprofit organizations up to $5,000 to install security cameras, alarm systems, lighting, and to cover repairs for things like broken windows.
Vice Mayor and Ward 2 Councilman Andrae Gonzales says he understands why business owners are upset.
“It’s very frustrating for me, even, to see all of these things that happen, so it’s not lost on me that something has to be done, but one of the things that we need to do is to make sure that we can prevent the crime before it occurs,” said Gonzales.
Gonzales says the city has invested almost a half million dollars in federal funding toward the grant program in an effort to prevent crime and encourage restoration efforts in the Downtown area.
“Our businesses are the ones on the frontlines. They’re the ones that are revitalizing our Downtown and Old Town Kern, and we want to be able to see them successful today and in the future, and we will not give up,” said Gonzales.
Agnetti says he appreciated BPD’s fast response, adding that he would like to see more of that so his employees feel more comfortable continuing to work Downtown.
“The people up front are scared. We have no idea who’s going to walk in that front door with whatever might be on their mind,” said Agnetti.
If your business is in a qualifying location for a Business Security Improvement Grant and you would like to apply, please visit the Business Security Improvements Grant page on the City of Bakersfield’s website.
The grants will be available to businesses and non-profits in Qualified Census Tracts (see below) within the City of Bakersfield to offset the cost of security improvements up to $5,000: