HPD, business owners begin movement to stop violent cell phone stores

March 8, 2013 8:24:35 PM PST
Across our area, business men have been robbed, assaulted and even killed because of what they do for a living. Now, the movement to stop the violence is beginning.

Cell phone stores have become a favorite target for violent criminals and it has a community and police saying enough is enough.

Dozens of cell phone owners, workers and managers gathered at a town hall meeting with Houston Police Department officials to say they're concerned about the violence and they just want it to stop.

At his family-owned cell phone accessory store, Abdul Mueez is always aware that they're a target for thieves.

"It's easy cash to steal a phone, then sell it on eBay, Craigslist to an individual anywhere," he said.

Mueez and fellow store owners have reason to be concerned. Just last month, a store owner was killed during a robbery. More common crimes, like break-ins at various cell phone stores, are almost a weekly occurrence.

"This is a specific meeting because someone asked me to come," Houston Police Chief Charles McClelland said.

McClelland and other HPD brass held a special town hall meeting with Houston's South Asian community, which owns many of the cell phone stores and are often the victims.

"Right now at some of our locations, we have full-time security guards that are helping protect our stores and customers," cell phone store owner Ken Khan said.

Store owners asked for more resources from Houston police, but the police department also requested something from the community: for members to be more proactive in filing reports using existing resources.

"You have to be involved in your community, you have to know what's in there for you," HPD Assistant Chief John Chen said.

They're hoping somewhere in between is a solution to fewer crimes.

"I don't know. There has to be a better solution," Mueez said.

Last month, HPD formed a task force to help cut down these type of crimes.

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