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Albany, Dougherty County business owners frustrated with crime

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By:  Len Kiese

October 20, 2008

Albany-- Some Albany and Dougherty County business owners had an emergency meeting Monday night.  Their urgent topic?  An upswing in crime at their stores.    

The convenience store owners say at least 13 stores have been robbed or burglarized in the past three weeks.  One owner even says he was robbed three times in one week recently.    It's getting to be too much to handle and they want more help from police.

Early morning surveillance video captured it all Sunday as a white SUV began circling the Oasis on South Slappey at 3:23 in the morning. Several minutes later, the vehicle rammed into the front of the business.   

By 3:52 a.m., two men were running inside.  One jumped over the counter and stole hundreds of dollars from the register.  Owner Dillip Joshi is fed up with it all.

"The damage to our store is $3,500 for my two doors and wall, everything," said Joshi.    

Other convenience store owners share Joshi's frustration. "Everyday I hear about this store got robbed or that store got robbed," said One Stop Owner Andy Patel.  Those frustrations are leading to fear among them.

"I was robbed at gunpoint.  What?  I need to die before somebody does something?," said Slappey Foods Owner Alok Jaiswal.   

Crooks are robbing and stealing, even cutting electricity from businesses to get away with it all.  At least a dozen business owners gathered in the aisles Monday night in hopes of putting a stop to the problem.  They say police play a vital part in the solution.

"Patrol more. Stop by.  We don't even see them.  We don't even see them," said Jaiswal.

"They never come in.  They never ask is everything ok," said Joshi.

"Even if we call them to patrol our store, we never saw any police car in our surveillance camera," said business owner Sunita Patel, "what's going on?  We need a result, a quick result."         

Owners say a result has to come before more trouble does. "This is not good," said Andy Patel.

Joshi hopes the bad he captured on tape leads to some arrests soon. "I want results from this.  I want to find out about the truck, who did it, all that," said Joshi.       

But he doesn't want it to happen again, anywhere, and hopes police will help meet that goal.  

We shared some of those concerns to Albany Police Chief James Younger.  He says APD uses a system to analyze crime stats and trends and based on that, they adjust patrols frequently.    They also use a tactical unit that employs strategies that include plain clothes officers and rooftop surveillance.    

The business owners plan to call Chief Younger to set up a meeting to share their concerns.    Chief Younger says he looks forward to a meeting to engage in collaborative problem solving.