"Do not enter!" is the message police are helping eastern Henrico store owners send to would-be criminals. Two weeks after a local store owner was gunned down in his own store, businesses are learning how to fight back.
Henrico Police say they typically perform safety inspections for businesses whenever there's a crime at a business, but they'll also do it by request to help prevent businesses from ever encountering crime.
"I notice you have good lighting as well at night," Officer Barry Clark points out to Glenn Gooding of Gooding Construction.
"You've got locks, deadbolts. That's excellent. You have signage ‘no trespassing,'" he examined.
It's an effort to make sure businesses on his beat are doing all they can to avoid becoming a target.
It's feedback Gooding welcomes.
A walk-through of his eastern Henrico business points out what he can do better and what already works.
"We want your hedge rows not to be too high to allow somebody to hide behind them. Your tree canopies we want those to be typically above 6 foot so nobody can get behind a tree," Clark showed.
He also recommends businesses sign a trespassing enforcement form. If the business owner is away and police see something suspicious, it enables the officer to take action.
"If we catch somebody on the property after hours that does not belong here, we can act as an agent of the property and effect an arrest immediately," Clark said.
Gooding has 24 hour surveillance in place, but Officer Clark says many businesses do not.
"You'd be surprised a lot of times these are repeat offenders who come back to do their crimes again and somebody knows them," he explained.
When it comes to fighting back against criminals, every little bit counts.
"When my customers are here, my prospective customers and my employees, [I want] to make them feel safe," Gooding said.
Glenn says during the day, businesses should keep their blinds open and remove any posters so that employees can see out the window and so police can see inside. Also, little things like posting "no trespassing" signs and alarm and surveillance signs are good deterrents.
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