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Illegal dumping, transients keeping private security busy near Sunrise Mall

Illegal dumping near vacant buildings in the Sunrise MarketPlace, such as this former Firestone building, is an ongoing problem for the district. // M. Hazlip

By Mike Hazlip—
The biggest problems for the largest business district in Citrus Heights are illegal dumping at abandoned properties and other issues related to the homeless population in the area.

Executive Director for the Sunrise MarketPlace business improvement district, Kathilynn Carpenter, said in a recent phone interview that a private security company the district contracts with is busy handling calls about the homeless population on a “minute by minute basis.” One recent incident involved an individual living in a crawl space above one of the mall’s tenant spaces, she confirmed. Authorities have since cleared the area.

Illegal dumping at some of the vacant properties is also a costly and time-consuming problem, Carpenter said. Items such as mattresses, bath tubs, engine blocks, and other large waste are routinely dumped behind buildings such as the former Firestone tire center.

People experiencing homelessness use the materials to construct shelters, Carpenter said.

Retail theft is also an ongoing concern in the Sunrise MarketPlace, which is made up of businesses in the Sunrise-Greenback commercial corridor. Carpenter said she is working with NorCal Security and Officer Jeff Schouten to prevent as much theft as possible by closely monitoring individuals engaged in suspicious activity.

A recent job post shows Hobby Lobby is seeking a loss prevention employee for its Citrus Heights store, although it is unclear if the location has had loss prevention staff previously or has created a new position. The job post says the position is “plain clothes” role, rather than uniformed position.

Carpenter said hiring loss prevention staff is a prudent measure that many retail locations are taking throughout the region to combat shoplifting, but said she hasn’t seen an uptick in retail theft compared to prior years.

Related: Citrus Heights business district spending $300k to combat crime, blight

In 2022, the Sunrise MarketPlace allocated $300,000 toward security and maintenance, out of its $1.3 million budget — a dramatic increase since 2019, when no money was allocated to such uses. Money for the district’s budget does not come from the city, but comes largely from a property tax assessment that businesses in the Sunrise-Greenback commercial corridor have voted to impose on themselves.

Carpenter said last year that the marketplace had started working with Rancho Cordova-based City Wide Property Services to provide daily porter service in the district, including abandoned shopping carts, litter, graffiti and dumped items.

In an effort to curb crime and vandalism, the marketplace paid full salary and benefits to have a dedicated Citrus Heights police officer patrol the district full-time in 2020. An armed private security company was also hired last year to patrol the area when the officer is off-duty.

“Together, the patrols have been effective at keeping crime statistics down,” Carpenter previously told The Sentinel.

The city also recently launched a “Citrus Heights Cares” campaign, in an effort to beautify the city by cleaning up camp sites, illegal dumping and removing trash and litter. A “Beautification Crew” has been launched as part of the campaign, using $875,000 in federal COVID recovery funding to go towards the new cleanup program.

From December: Citrus Heights launches new ‘Beautification Crew’ to clean up city

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