Businesses Unite to Prevent Crime

By: Rachel Thomas Email
By: Rachel Thomas Email

You've heard of neighborhood watch, and now businesses are banding together on the look out for criminals. Last December, Lansing saw a 75 percent increase in robberies of businesses.

"There's so many people out of work and people steal $80 off a counter or break into banks. People are desperate for money," said Ron Jones, a director on the board for South Lansing Business Association.

Tim Horton's on South Cedar changed its operating hours because of crime in the area.

"We used to be 24/7 and we had to close at 10 o'clock at night to protect our employees. We were saddened by that choice, but we had to do it," said Michele Hirschfield, the co-owner of Tim Horton's in South Lansing.

Now leaders of the Tim Horton's chain are helping to spearhead the business watch effort with Lansing police.

Most business districts in Lansing including Old Town and REO Town participate in the Business Watch, plus 25 additional business chains. Police say the training and communication between employees and police significantly help their efforts to fight crime.

"The police department can't be everywhere all the time. The more people we have informed and to communicate with, it's a great help," said Chief Teresa Szymanski of the Lansing Police Department.

The effort informs businesses how to protect themselves with lights and surveillance cameras. It also teaches employees how to be better witnesses in the event of a crime or reporting suspicious activity.

"We know it works when businesses are cued into these things on the front end," said Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero, "rather than be victimized on the back end."

Business Watch members say they want to take a stand and stop the sudden rise in business targeted crime.

To find out more about the Business Watch or become a member go to:

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