Brooms, a dustpan and a shovel sat outside a downtown Bakersfield restaurant Tuesday morning after employees swept up shards of broken glass from the eight windows and a door that were destroyed Monday night in an act of vandalism.

It all started at about 10:40 p.m. Monday when two teenagers began throwing rocks at windows at Slice of Italy, located at 2543 F St. They also punched the glass out of one of the restaurant's doors, said owner Dupree Brar.

One of the two suspects had his face covered and wasn't wearing a shirt, while the other was wearing a jacket and a hoodie, Brar said. He watched the incident through the restaurant's security footage. Cassie Bittle, owner of KC Steakhouse, said she saw the two teenagers around the area in the past week.

Downtown business owners have expressed their frustration and discontent with the chronic vagrancy issues plaguing the area. The large population of vagrant people in the area has been tied to vandalism, aggressive panhandling and even physical confrontations.

Brar said part of the problem is the population of vagrant people and teenagers lingering around downtown businesses. Bittle echoed Brar's sentiment, saying she regularly cleans up after vagrants who camp out in the alley behind her restaurant.

Bittle lives behind KC Steakhouse and said she sees vagrants in the alley on a daily basis. She said she puts on her rubber boots, rubber gloves and a face mask to scrub human feces off the streets and walls.

"We have such a problem with the homeless defecating in our alleyways," Bittle said. "It's to an extreme now. It's getting worse and worse and worse.

"Every day I could tell you story after story after story."

Brar said the two suspects didn't take anything from the restaurant. They just threw rocks, costing Brar a $1,000 insurance deductible and an estimated $7,000 to $8,000 in glass repairs.

With the summer heat and the plywood standing in for the windows, Brar said he probably won't get much business in the coming weeks as he waits for new windows to come in.

"We're a business, we're trying to have a certain image for people to come in," Brar said. "I'm sure not everyone's going to want to eat with the windows boarded up. This is just another headache."

This isn't the first time Slice of Italy has been vandalized in recent months, Brar said. Once every couple of months, Brar said, his business — and other businesses in the area — experience some sort of vandalism.

"Something's happening all the time," Brar said. "You get tired of it, but you also start to get used to it. Everybody's just frustrated. Nobody wants this kind of stuff in the area."

A nearby business, A.J.'s Tuxedo Junction, had one of its windows broken about a month ago, but nothing was taken, said owner Dax Chavez. A piece of plywood stands in place for the glass that was broken. He also pointed to the population of vagrant people in the area.

"A lot of them don't come in here because it's a tuxedo shop," Chavez said.

At a Downtown Business Association meeting on Aug. 6, many people specifically expressed concern over the lack of resources available to the Bakersfield Police Department as it effectively acts on behalf of local businesses.

Sgt. Nathan McCauley, public information officer for the BPD, said officers are working as efficiently as they can, though he did say the department could look into patrolling certain areas more often. 

The BPD works to prioritize calls, McCauley said, adding that officers "get to calls when they can." But calls involving human life are always going to take precedent over property damage, he said.

"The police do their part, but there's really nothing they can do," Brar said.

Bittle concurred.

"I think it's going to take all of us as a community trying to figure out a solution," she said. 

(6) comments

Moardeeb

Go to Slice of Italy and buy some pizza this week! I will!

REMUDA

1. " . . . teenagers . . . lingering . . . "?

(Almost all male U.S. citizens and male immigrants, who are 18 through 25, are required to register with Selective Service.

https://www.sss.gov/Registration-Info/Who-Registration)



2. " . . . vagrant people . . . vandalism, aggressive panhandling . . . physical confrontations . . . defecating . . . "?

[Cal. Penal Code § 647(e) (West 2013) (“[E]very person who commits any of the following acts is guilty of disorderly conduct, a misdemeanor: . . . (e) Who lodges in any building, structure, vehicle, or place, whether public or private, without the permission of the owner or person entitled to the possession or in control of it.”). ]



3. " . . . get used to it." . . . (?) "The police do their part, but there's really nothing they can do," (?)

"Form a Neighborhood Watch group for

your street or block. Talk to your

neighbors — call the Crime Prevention

Unit at 392-6914 to come give an

in-home presentation to help you form

your group."

http://www.kernsheriff.org/Investigations_Document/helpful_tips_flyer.pdf

JSmith

Too funny Redrover that you are using a anonymous name like 7nickfish.

NALISON

So they do their part which is nothing?

7nickfish

Our business was vandalized this week as well as a credit union I belong to. The problem is our city fathers and the police are to blame for this. Other cities do NOT allow overnight sleeping at all within city limits, others do not allow people to give money to panhandlers. There are solutions and to have a city where people can shop and walk and enjoy is worth the effort. We call the police and they come hours later and in the mean time I see officers stopping for coffee or other things. The department has to crack down- showing people that flaunt the law and violate OUR RIGHTS will not be tolerated works. Try it before you say there isn't a solution. That is a weak excuse for what gov't is supposed to do. This same apathy from our cities leadership only makes matters worse. I could go on and on about the things that happen along Truxtun Ave and thereabouts but it should be obvious to all who pass by. Is this what we have allowed ourselves to become. We are the ones in cages and the homeless have full reign of the streets. Ninety out of a hundred of the vagrants or homeless could do something constructive to be allowed to be on the streets. Requiring them to put in hours to clean will either clean our city or make them move on to cities that allow their antics. You can be homeless without being destructive or a problem.

RedRover

7nickfish your comments are positive, non-confrontational constructive criticism and will go to waste being anonymous. You should go before the city council and read your comments during the public comment period, which is on the agenda at the beginning of the council meeting.

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