City's first business block watch program starts in West Seattle
SEATTLE -- You've heard of neighborhood crime watch groups, but now the city has its first business block watch in West Seattle.
Police said they have been noticing more crime in commercial areas so businesses are banding together hoping to deter criminals with the new business block watch.
As a restaurant owner, Shimi Kahn knows there's a cost for doing business, but crime? That's just bad for business.
Kahn said his restaurant has been broken into several times and once he chased down thieves who had stolen equipment from his food truck behind the restaurant.
"We've seen more drunk people, more drug users, more thefts, more vandalisms,” said Kahn, who owns Falafel Salam. “So frustrating. It stops everything you’re doing, and now you have to deal with this and you can’t do what you’re needing to do and you can’t make money.”
In the last few months, Angela Cough installed a security gate to stop thieves who constantly stole milk from her coffee shop storage fridge.
"We ended up having to put in an actual security gate which is about $3000,” said Cough.
"I've had several businesses over the last 20 years and I haven't had to deal with this type of stuff,” added Cough.
That’s how the city's first business block watch program with SPD and the Junction Association was born. The Junction Association approached SPD looking for a solution to the crime concerns.
"What we're saying to criminals is think twice. Think twice before you come into the district,” said The Junction Association Executive Director Lora Radford. “We are well connected, we watch out for each other, we work well with SPD. Really think twice…”
Extra eyes will be looking out for sketchy stuff, then members can quickly alert each other electronically.
Many businesses in the watch will have a decal outside their business, warning that they’re watching you.
Businesses in the program will get a security inspection from an SPD officer who inspects doors, windows and alleys to see what owners can do to improve safety.
SPD said if the watch works in West Seattle, they will expand it.
"Eventually our goal is to have city wide commercial block watches,” said Radford.
We checked the SPD crime stats for the Alaska Junction which includes the block watch area.
So far in 2018, there have been 530 property crime incidents in the Alaska Junction.
In 2017, there were 671 property crimes for the entire year.