There aren’t many similarities between a bank and a taxi cab. Until one or the other is robbed, that is.
Businessmen and businesswomen from both industries, along with several others, joined members of the Killeen Police Department and City Councilman Gregory Johnson at a forum to discuss the best business practices for crime prevention on Thursday at the Killeen Police Department’s headquarters. About 20 people were on hand to listen to Lt. Antonia McDaniel talk about the things he sees most often when responding to robbery calls.
Johnson’s forum dealt directly with an issue, robbery, that hasn’t been a major focus of discussion, despite the fact that it’s prevalent. Just hours before Johnson’s forum began, a First National Bank on U.S. 190 was robbed.
Crime has been high many residents’ priority lists since the Jan. 12 forum in which Interim Police Chief Margaret Young said nonviolent crime rates have stayed the same since last year. Since the beginning of the year, there have been 49 reported burglaries of a commercial building, according to data from the Community Crime Map.
Councilwoman Shirley Fleming has held a number of Neighborhood Watch meetings for the people of District 1, and Johnson held an event called “Coffee with Councilman Johnson” in January, to help address the prominent issues residents had.
There have been at least three robberies this week in Killeen. On April 11, the Oriental Cafe on Greenlee Drive was robbed and just a day earlier, a 7-Eleven convenience store on Willow Springs Road was robbed.
On Feb. 26, security officer William Petty was shot and killed during a robbery attempt of a Subway restaurant open 24 hours a day. On March 22, another 24-hour Subway was robbed at gunpoint by two people.
The best way to prevent a robbery at your business, McDaniel said, is to ensure that the setting provides a good level of visibility. Convenience stores often have advertisements in the windows of the stores, but those ads can double as cover for a person prepared to rob a cashier at gunpoint. Bushes and hedges can also make it difficult for passers-by to see what’s going on. If the store owners keep those trimmed and keep an area well-lighted, those may keep robbers away.
Officers also discussed what to do when a robbery is already underway. It’s important for employees to keep their composure, even though the situation might be one of the most stressful he or she has ever been through. Sudden movements are not encouraged, and communication is important, even though a gun may be pointed in the employee’s direction.
“If they’re already thinking about robbing you, making them mad isn’t going to make things easier for you.”
Being alert can help business employees out of sticky situations. If it’s the middle of June and a few people walk up to a convenience store late at night wearing hooded sweatshirts or knit hats, it may be a good time to call the police, McDaniel said.
If an employee is robbed, the best case scenario for the police to orchestrate a complete investigation is a fresh crime scene. Lock down the store, McDaniel said, and don’t accept any more customers.
“I’m not telling you guys to be CSI — crime scene investigators,” he said. “But please help us.”
If a robbery has already happened, it’s best to let that person leave. Chasing after someone, especially with a gun, can lead to more complicated situations, like felony charges or an ambush from several people waiting in a getaway car outside
Business owners who want to help prepare their employees for a possible robbery should contact Tammy Moseley, the crime prevention coordinator at the Killeen Police Department. Though it won’t be as high-intensity as the real thing, a mock robbery may help the cashier in the future.