Lower East Side Merchant Meeting with 7th Precinct
With a rash of burglaries on the Lower East Side recently, the Lower East Side Business Improvement District (LES BID), in conjunction with CB3 and the 7th Precinct Community Council, invited local store owners to meet with officers from the 7th Precinct to express concerns about the recent wave of criminal activity. Officials from Assemblyman Sheldon Silver’s office and the District Attorneys office were on hand for the meeting at the Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center on Suffolk Street.
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“What spurred this meeting was the incident at Pilgrim last week,” said Bob Zuckerman, Executive Director of the LES BID. He was referring to the robbery last week at the Pilgrim vintage boutique shop at 70 Orchard Street. Store co-owner Richard Ives required 70 stitches to his head and arms after tussling through a window with a would-be shoplifter.
During the course of the meeting, cops from the 7th Precinct provided local merchants with the following tips:
- Keep as little cash in the register as possible.
- Keep window signs and posters displayed in such a way as to allow viewing from the street of cash register area/safe.
- Keep the store well-lighted and have video cameras.
- Keep back rooms closed.
- Try not to work alone.
- Don’t answer questions about alarm systems.
- Be aware of surroundings when opening or close your shop.
- Notify police if suspicious people are loitering outside the business.
As for the incident last Tuesday at Pilgrim, several merchants were furious that two traffic cops down the block were busy writing parking tickets, rather than calling for backup. The LES BID thought the idea of having all merchants share contact information with their office. That way if someone is suspicious they can send an e-mail blast to all stores in the area. Police officers from the 7th Precinct also offered to conduct security assessments in neighborhood shops.
In addition, the LES BID has a security grant program in place, which reimburses store owners up to $425 if they purchase a video camera for their shop. “We have only had 2 or 3 businesses use this program in the past,” said Mr. Zuckerman. With the uptick in crime at shops on Orchard and Ludlow Streets of late, more store owners might be willing to make that investment.
–Written by Andrew Cohen