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Some Sacramento car dealerships considering electric fences to deter thieves, but some residents express concern

CBS Sacramento 3/21/2023 CBS Sacramento

SACRAMENTO - Some local car dealerships are looking for a powerful new way to fight off thieves, but some people are "on the fence" about this "shocking" crime prevention plan. 

We're getting answers on why businesses say electric fences are needed to give their security an extra jolt.

Jasmin Mahfouz says her family's Florin Road auto dealership has seen multiple cases of vandalism and theft. 

"Thieves just come in, do their thing," she says. 

Other nearby car lots say they've suffered similar overnight break-ins. The crimes are tough for these small businesses, with stolen catalytic converters costing thousands of dollars to replace. 

"We're actually the ones who have to repair, and that has a lot of costs on us," Mahfouz says.

The dealerships already have surveillance cameras and some even have barbed wire fences and guard dogs, but the crimes keep happening. 

"We have a security guard who's here 27/7, even with that, it's still an issue," Mahfouz says. Now they have a new idea to "amp" up security by installing electric fences. 

"It can help with thieves not being able to hop over the fences," Mahfouz says.

The fences would be 10 feet tall and be located behind the existing fence, so people walking by would not accidentally touch them. The manufacturer says it delivers a non-lethal shock and is meant to be a deterrent. 

"Just seeing that warning sign that the fence is electric, it will make them not want to do what they want to do," Mahfouz says.

Not everyone in the neighborhood supports the plan. 

"That sounds pretty harsh, I don't even know what to say, electric fences?" says Patricia Mejia, a Sacramento resident. 

The car lots are also right across the street from Luther Burbank High School.

 "High schoolers, if they mind their own business, it wouldn't really harm them in any sort of way," Mahfouz says.

A Sacramento city administrator rejected the electric fence request, saying it's prohibited unless they are "reasonably necessary to protect persons or property and will not constitute a safety hazard." Now the dealerships are appealing that decision to the planning commission for approval. 

"Police reports don't help, so we've been dealing with it," Mahfouz says.

The Florin Road Business District says it supports the extra security measures. The planning commission hearing is this Thursday at City Hall.

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