Sunday, April 13, 2008

Crime and Security in Baltimore: random thoughts

I just learned that the needle exchange program in Hampden has been quietly moved for lack of attendance. Well, gee, who woulda thunk? After some back and forth negotiations with the neighborhood honchos, the Health Department located the van in the 3800 block of Buena Vista Avenue. And nobody came. Guess what, guys? The Fraternal Order of Police offices are in the next block! And, you know, cops and junkies don't really mix very well. So, it's no surprise that the program ended.

It's not that there's no drug use in Hampden--there's plenty. You can see them all up and down Falls Road with glazed eyes and hanging out waiting for the stuff to get there or for a ride to where it's at.

The Health Department started the program because of the high number of emergency room visits for overdoses from Hampden.

Liquor store held up

A liquor store in North Baltimore was held up a couple of weeks ago by an armed hoodlum. It happened just about dusk at 7pm. The thug sensed the two employees in the store were not cooperating, and were contemplating resistance with their attitudes. So the robber puts the gun on a woman customer, and they gave it up. This was their second armed robbery in less than a year. The earlier one, last summer, ended when a muscular employee tackled and pushed the robber out the door, and slammed him on the ground, causing the gun to go off. After a brief struggle, the thug broke free and escaped, pausing briefly to fire a shot at the employee. A citizen of the area saw this going down and followed the two miscreants to a car on Falls Road; he took down the tag number and returned to the store to give to the police. They were able to make two arrests that same day. One guy got 10 years, the other 5. Despite that, the store still got held up again.
Now, the security consultant sees several issues with the design of the store. One cannot look in and see the register very easily, and for the most part the inside of the store is isolated from outside view. Thus, the store lacks what security consultants call "natural surveillance". The big decision most criminals make is whether or not they're going to get caught. Natural surveillance makes them think twice. Buz to store owners in retail everywhere: increase your natural surveillance.