As part of the Richmond Police Department's ongoing efforts to help businesses avoid falling victim to crime, officers say their Business Watch program is especially important with the holidays approaching.
At the Police Training Academy, officers aren't the only ones getting trained. So are business owners. They're learning how to take action against crime before criminals take action on them.
In the past two months alone, there have been nearly 4,000 crimes in the city of Richmond - ranging from burglaries to robberies, even assaults. Many times the criminals are targeting area businesses.
"If someone try to steal or drive off, the cameras help," said Asmat Ali.
He should know. He owns several convenience stores in the city and has seen enough. It's why he attended the Business Watch forum Wednesday, helping him become pro-active against crime and learn what works for other business owners.
"We learn from them what they have experienced," he said.
They're also learning from police.
"When closing, always wipe the windows down. If something were to occur, most of the time they push the glass windows rather than the handles. That's how we're able to pick up on fingerprints," said Officer Alice Snell.
She says with the holidays approaching businesses must anticipate crime before it hits.
"Sometimes we do see spikes of crimes then," said Snell.
The session is teaching businesses how to be good eyewitnesses since many robbers, police say, are already familiar with the establishments they target. Police also want businesses to know they should never leave money in their shops or offices overnight.
Useful information for Ali, not just affecting his safety, it's also helping keep him in business.
"Since I've been coming here, I've learned a lot…if you follow these directions, it helps," he said.
If you own a business, police say they're willing to come to you to assess your building and help you come up with some extra safety options that won't break the bank. For more information, call 646-4069.
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