Albany business owners frightened by violent crimes - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Albany business owners frightened by violent crimes

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By Jim Wallace - bio | email

July 16, 2008

ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Armed robbers beat an Albany businesswoman with a pipe, possibly breaking her hands. Surrounding Business owners say several recent violent robberies and attacks have them scared, and looking for ways to protect themselves and their employees.

Around 7:30 Tuesday night four men attacked the owner of the Shoe Depot on Dawson Road. One man repeatedly hit 49 year old Leslie Okasha with a pipe, cutting her head, and possibly breaking her hands and fingers.

While beating her, the man taunted the business owner that she was lucky, because the other men had guns."  TCBY owner Sandy Jones said "It's pretty scary, definitely."

Word of another violent armed robbery in Albany spread quickly through the business community. Doc Heilinbel's Pharmacy owner Chuck Cleveland said "We have seen a lot of that going on lately. With the Bandana Bandit a couple of weeks ago, and this last night."

Just a block from the Shoe Depot, TCBY owner Sandy Jones said this violent attack makes her think about more protection for her business.  Jones said "We have some security measures in place, but really it's pretty scary. I know it's the times we live in, but it's pretty scary."

Cleveland said he also is looking at increased security for his employees, that will not hurt his business. Cleveland said "Without spooking the customers. We want them to feel very comfortable coming in. That's one of our goals. We don't want to do anything to frighten them away."

Jones said "It's part of the process, but I just don't want any of my employees to get hurt."

Earlier Tuesday Okasha had reported an attempted burglary at the Shoe Depot, where someone had cut holes in the back wall trying to get in.

She was taken to the Hospital by ambulance, treated and released. Her store was closed Wednesday.

 Investigators say that all four of the armed robbers could be juveniles. There have been no arrests.

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