Being aware of suspicious visitors and keeping a store well-lit and clutter-free are just a couple tips to prevent robberies that Fairborn police shared with local business owners recently.
“Criminals are wolves who look for weakness and prey upon it,” said Det. Brian Neiford of the Fairborn Police Department.
Fairborn has not had a lot of violent robberies, said Fairborn Police Chief Terry Barlow. In the past four years, the downtown corridor has averaged one or two a year, Barlow said.
But the stabbing of the owner of Roush’s Restaurant, who was trying to thwart a robbery in December had put some business owners on edge, said Paul Newman, executive director of the Fairborn Chamber of Commerce. The owner of Roush’s recovered from his injury but the criminal has not been caught.
“The businesses here have been fairly safe,” Newman said. “But at the same time, the owner of Roush’s told me how he wished he had just called the police when he saw the robber instead of trying to capture the man himself. We just want to be proactive to help business owners by spreading tips on what to do should something like that happen to them.”
Businesses can take many preventative measures to become safer, Neiford said. Among those steps are keeping windows clear so that business owners can see what’s going on outside; maintaining a well-lit and well-maintained exterior also increases visibility and keeps potential criminals from lurking; similarly, keeping strong sight lines for the whole interior of a store will help reduce the chance of theft.
Owners and employees should also be aware of people acting suspicious, particularly those who are loitering outside for a long period of time and those who appear overly nervous or have their heads “on a swivel” Neiford said. People wearing out-of-season clothing, particularly ski masks or other heavy, face-concealing clothing in warmer weather are also a cause for concern.
“Trust your instincts,” Neiford said. “If something seems wrong, then it probably is. Never be afraid to call the police department if you think that someone is acting suspicious. That is what we’re here for.”
Barlow said that having properly working security cameras and recording equipment is an invaluable tool in both deterring criminals and helping police to identify them if a crime does occur.
Vince Bracci, the operations manager for Miami Valley Region of Ace Hardware, said the meeting offered a lot of valuable information.
“Some of our stores are in an area where, unfortunately, this kind of thing can happen,” Bracci said. “It’s important to us to create a safe environment, because if our customers don’t feel safe, why would they want to come back?”