Industrial business owners say train track camping is fueling crime

Business owners report dozens of crimes near McKinley and Chestnut

Fresno, California - Industrial business owners in the area of McKinley and Chestnut in Fresno say they've been dealing with several break-ins and crimes over the past few months and they're fed up. Railroad tracks run right behind a group of industrial businesses in the area and business owners say people are literally camping along the tracks and they believe it's directly tied to a spike in crime they've seen during the last few months. 

At 8 a.m. on March 19th Fresno Police say Donald Harmon decided to break into WW Generators. Manager Ryan Sundstrom explained how. 
"He came into this area where he couldn't be seen and he ended up cutting this whole fence and peeling it away," said Sundstrom.

That alone created $500 worth of damage and moments later investigators say he grabbed a roll of copper wire worth hundreds of dollars. There's now up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest. Sundstrom says this is now the tenth time in the last few months he's been victimized by crooks.

"You almost lose track of it because it's happened so often," said Sundstom. 

Right next door at P&J Custom Window Coverings owner Matt Carlton is dealing with much of the same. 

"They'll cut the locks on my gate they will come through here and cut through the fence and roll it back. They'll go to the generator company next door,"said Carlton.  

Carlton attributes the uptick in crime to unexpected neighbors along the railroad track. 

"Over the last six to eight months we've had a huge problem with the homeless they've been making encampments across the back probably 15 to 20 cuts through our fence," 

He says the trespassing is just the beginning. 

"Stealing trailers, stealing tools, taking panels off of our buildings, stealing saws, they started a fire in October here," said Carlton.  

This is video shot by our news crew at that fire which caused at least $60,000 worth of damage. These industrial business owners say something has got to change.

"Absolutely fed up with this. It is taking way too much of our time," said Sundstrom. 

The business owners say while these crimes may not rise to the level of violent crimes it makes it very hard to run a business here and if this issue isn't addressed soon they may be taking their business to another city. 

If you have any information to help investigators call Crime Stoppers at 498-STOP you can remain anonymous.

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