Giving store owners active role in fighting crime

Officers are hitting the streets to help local businesses better protect themselves and the people they serve
March 5, 2014 9:17:25 AM PST
In an effort to keep customers, employees and communities safe, Houston police are taking a renewed approach to stopping crooks before their crimes. Houston police officers are hitting the streets to help local businesses better protect themselves and the people they serve.

Calling it a "March on Crime," officers are cracking down on crime and stepping up safety efforts.

Houston police officers are meeting with the city's convenience store owners face to face helping them protect themselves from crime.

In 2007, when Houston reached a peak of 1,100 robberies, the police department implemented a specific program to educate store owners on crime-proofing their businesses.

HPD Sgt. Michael Hill explained, "We've been working with them for several years now, and we want to keep up the good work that's been going on."

Now the stores are required to pass an eight-point inspection that covers signage, alarm systems, cash handling and surveillance cameras.

"At least two color digital cameras, and we ask them to keep their footage on file for 30 days in case we need to do any follow up investigations," Sgt. Hill said.

Failing an item on the inspection results in first a warning and then a citation if the problem isn't corrected. The goal is to make sure store owners are proactive in protecting their business, and not just relying on police patrols.

"Robberies are down 71 percent," Sgt. Hill said. "These are significant numbers. We've made a significant impact on crime happening in convenience stores."

The officers will be visiting all of the nearly 1,500 convenience stores during the month of March. Occasionally in the past citations have been issued, but police say generally the store owners are happy to work with police to ensure safety. Find Simon on Facebook at ABC13SimonGutierrez or on Twitter at @sggutierrez

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