As holiday shoppers get ready to head to area shopping centers, local law enforcement says so, too, will criminals.
In an effort to combat property crimes, business owners are creating a plan to share information about what’s happening in their parking lots.
“One of the most frequent crimes that occurs in our area, in this time period, is vehicle break-ins,” said Sgt. Daniel Anders, with the San Antonio Police Department.
Anders, who supervises the Property Crimes Unit at the Prue Road substation, said while making arrests and creating information campaigns are successful, the initiative to stop vehicle break-ins is being expanded to include local businesses.
“The more people that are involved in it, the more people that are sharing, then we may help create an environment that makes it difficult for the bad guys to operate in,” Anders said.
The plan includes meeting with area retailers and restaurants, especially along the business-heavy Interstate 10 corridor, to create a community network in which information on recent burglaries and thefts can be easily shared.
Area businesses owners say when bad experiences happen to customers in their parking lots, customers generally do not return to that establishment.
“Even if it is after they leave our restaurant, they're not going to return. So fixing that issue, even if it's in our parking lot, it still affects us, majorly,” said Stephanie Vanderburg, banquet sales manager of Maggiano’s Little Italy at The Rim. “You could really tell that there was a community that really wanted to become a part of this, and fix a problem that needs to be fixed.”
Shaun Burdick, director of security at Westin La Cantera, said making sure customers have a crime-free stay is his top priority.
“When they come to San Antonio, they're expecting to enjoy themselves, and typically, when they're a victim of crime, they're not going to enjoy (themselves),” Burdick said. “The focus is to make it more difficult for criminals, where they will get discouraged. They'll move on, move out, or just stop.”
Aside from hiding all merchandise out of plain sight and locking your vehicles, businesses ask that the public also report any suspicious activity, while out shopping.