Prince George’s officials share tips to continue crime reduction efforts -- Gazette.Net


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Hoping to continue the two-year trend of record crime lows, Prince George’s officials shared tips with county business owners on how to stay safe during the holiday season and beyond.

Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks talked at a Dec. 18 meeting in Oxon Hill about the importance of police and business owner cooperation. When police and businesses work together it is easier for officers to arrest offenders, which can deter future crime, she said.

“We are at a point where we are seeing historic declines in crime,” Alsobrooks said. “Prince George’s County is headed in the right direction.”

Total overall crime in Prince George’s County is down 12.1 percent than 2012, according to police data. In 2012, crime numbers were as low as they had been since 1987 so it’s possible the 2013 decreases will top that, said Gina Ford, Prince George’s County State’s Attorney spokeswoman.

Murders are down 11.7 percent, overall violent crime is down about 15 percent and property crimes are down as well with both burglaries and overall property crime down about 12 percent, according to police data.

The meeting was held at the Clarion Hotel in Oxon Hill where hotel employee Jesse Chavez was killed trying to stop a robber on Oct. 22. Alsobrooks called Chavez “a hero,” but said business owners should not encourage stopping robbers because that can escalate the crime. Instead, business owners should practice good judgment, monitoring suspicious customers and alerting police to potential threats, police officials said at the meeting.

Alsobrooks said meetings like the crime forum were integral in helping decrease crime across the county as police, business owners and residents worked together in crime prevention. During the forum, business owners were given tips on how to pay attention to suspicious customers and protect their business from break-ins during closures. Business owners were told to look for customers who come in often, but don’t buy anything and ensure all access points to their building were secured during closed hours.

Prince George’s County police Cpl. Diane May also alerted attendees to a recent trend where thieves are breaking into stores and stealing complete ATMs. May said business owners can help police solve burglaries by making sure surveillance cameras work and alerting police to suspicious activity such as loitering.

“Commercial burglaries are incredibly difficult to solve,” May said. “We need to see their faces.”

Angela Holmes of Camp Springs said she appreciated the crime forum because business owners and residents can’t just rely on police to solve and prevent crimes. Business owners have to pay attention and know their environments and communicate their situations with police, she said.

“Open dialogue is why crime has gone down the last three years,” Holmes said.

ccook@gazette.net