Youngstown targets holiday crime

Youngstown Mayor Jamael Tito Brown, left, and police Chief Carl Davis are shown Wednesday talking to reporters about a stepped-up effort to combat retail thefts in the city, including using plainclothes officers in stores. Staff photo / Ed Runyan

YOUNGSTOWN — The Youngstown Police Department will be stepping up efforts to reduce retail thefts in the city in the coming weeks because such crimes increase around the holidays.

Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and police Chief Carl Davis were among the speakers at a news conference Wednesday at the police station to warn thieves that the police department will be watching — sometimes in plain clothes.

“They may or may not know the police are present in the area. We want to make sure we both deploy uniform and plainclothes officers so we have visibility and a little undercover operations,” said Lt. Brian Butler.

The mayor said there have been incidents in which an individual fills up a basket with items and just walks out.

“We want them to understand that may be the very day and the very place where we have law enforcement in that shop, and you’re taking a chance it will land yourself in jail,” he said.

That type of incident occurred Tuesday at the Family Dollar on Glenwood Avenue, according to a police report.

At 7:02 p.m., a man walked past an employee who was outside the store carrying a shopping basket containing items such as a mop, broom, cleaning supplies and toilet paper.

About that time, the employee saw a co-worker heading out of the store and realized what was happening. The first employee thought she recognized the man with the basket and called out the name “Tony.” The man turned and looked at her, then took off running toward the woods, the report states.

The other employee told police the man approached the counter and told the worker if she tried to stop him, he would shoot her. A Youngstown police report does not indicate that any arrests were made in the case.

The Family Dollar store not far away on Canfield Road in Cornersburg had an even more scary incident Nov. 16 when a man walked out of the store with stolen items, causing a worker to walk out to the sidewalk to try to get a license plate number.

One of three men in the car pulled her into the car, which then drove off with her inside. The woman fought with the men and scratched them, but the men also assaulted her, she said. She tried to force the car off of the road by grabbing the steering wheel and gear shifter, a police report from that incident states.

She begged the men to let her out of the car and was finally able to escape near the intersection of Canfield Road and Glenwood Avenue. Customers of the store were in their car nearby, and they allowed her in their car and drove her back to the store, she said.

Police have a person of interest in the case.

The mayor and chief met with local business owners over lunch recently to talk to them about store thefts, Brown and Davis said.

As for shoppers, Brown reminded them to “be aware of your surroundings” to make yourself and your family safe.

“As we have done every year, our officers will be making extra checks on businesses throughout the city. These additional checks will be occurring every day throughout December,” Davis said.

“We want a peaceful and safe holiday experience for our retail stores and those shopping there,” he said.

“When you see our officers, we encourage you to stop and talk to them,” Davis said. “Let them know of any concerns you may have. It is only through our partnerships with the community that we can make this a joyous, special and safe holiday season.”



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