Sheriff warns that criminals may be getting an early jump on holiday crime | Crime
Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott held a press conference at a local business Thursday in the shadow of a school and neighborhood to announce that he is very concerned about a recent trend of armed robberies that is affecting the Midlands. The Sheriff wants everyone (citizens and criminals) to be on notice of what is happening and what the Sheriff’s Department is doing and what citizens can do to help prevent it.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that in 2011 there were 81 total commercial robberies that occurred in Richland County; while so far in 2012 there have been 91 with the biggest increase since August 1, 2012 compared to last year at the same time (see attached graph). The Sheriff stated that the robberies have occurred at convenience stores, restaurants, clothing stores, pharmacies and home improvement stores – that no specific type of business has been immune from these crimes. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that the facts are that criminals are targeting our citizens and the communities and Department are not going to stand for it.
The Sheriff stated that with the holidays fast approaching we need everyone to help work to prevent crime and to capture those who would victimize our communities. Sheriff Leon Lott stated that citizens must take a proactive approach to dealing with this issue. Some examples:
- Business owners should request free armed robbery safety training from the Department’s Community Action Team.
- Businesses should request free security analysis of your business from the Department’s Community Action Team (Noting that homeowners can request the same service for free).
- Businesses must train their employees on what to do before, during and after an armed robbery occurs
- Businesses should be part of a crime watch and be vigilant – for example call 911 for all suspicious activity
- Increase lighting while decrease landscaping
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that these are just some of the examples of what citizens can do; while the Department will continue to aggressively patrol our communities using uniform deputies, K9 deputies, Traffic Safety Units, Community Action Team Deputies, helicopter, undercover deputies and criminal investigators. The Sheriff stated the Department has made arrests recently of suspects wanted in surrounding jurisdictions and continue to work to identify if these same suspects are linked to Richland County robberies. The Sheriff added that investigators continue to work on leads to identify other suspects connected with the robberies but continue to ask for the publics help.
- Citizens can contact the Community Action Team by calling 803-576-3191 or by going to www.rcsd.net.
Sheriff Leon Lott stated that citizens should report all suspicious activity to 911 immediately and should call crimestoppers if you have any information on anyone who may be wanted, has committed a crime or have general information that may help investigators.
To reduce or minimize the risk of your becoming a victim of Armed Robbery, there are some basic steps you can take.
Before a robbery:
Teach and Practice, Practice and Teach (Train to be alert to your surroundings, to be a good witnesses and an involved citizen)
Evidence Collection Equipment (Install Cameras, Smooth surfaces and Height Tape)
Have Policy and Procedures that will help protect you(Closing, Money handling, passive, hiring and firing)
During a robbery:
Assure the Criminal that you will give them what they want
Announce your actions and movements to the robber
Have a plan
Be good witness and be passive
7 Steps After a robbery:
- Lock the doors
- Sound the alarm/911
- Verify all employees are safe
- Preserve the crime scene
- Ask customers to stay
- Fill out suspect ID sheet
- Pat yourself on the back-you survived
Reporting a robbery that has occurred:
Give your location
Be specific(where, what, who, give details)
Stay on the phone
You may be telling us something that we are not aware of or you may be giving us the information that we need to investigate and possibly make an arrest. Suspicious Activity is an event taking place out of the ordinary which could lead to a crime or be a crime in progress.
Protective Measures to prevent robbery:
Limit access to work areas
Have alternate staff exits
Know how to report problems
Report threatening and suspicious activity to police
Electronic access control.
Have Security Surveys done
Improve Lighting and Visibility
Have the police became familiar with your facility.
Practice good crime prevention.
Be “law enforcement friendly”.
Utilize local associations to keep abreast of current trends.