Cops to Stake Out Local Businesses - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

01/10/05

Cops to Stake Out Local Businesses

Police stake out a local store from the back room. Police stake out a local store from the back room.

Next time robbers strike, they might not get away. Police are using the element of surprise as a crime-fighting tactic. They'll be working in at businesses, stationed in a back room, watching and waiting.

Russo's Seafood was just the latest target of crime. The store was hit by burglars overnight, or as Charlie Russo put it, "a couple of jerks, thugs, whatever you want to call them."

Russo's has been in business 58 years. Break-ins are nothing new to Russo. "It's definitely frustrating," he said.

What he's worried about is next time. "Even though I am disturbed by a cinderblock through my window, a gun in my face is like the end of the world."

Russo says Russo's has a problem with crime once every few years. But for businesses like gas stations and convenience stores, crime is an everyday problem. So police are trying to beat thieves to the punch with undercover stakeouts.

Two cops, hidden from view, armed and ready for anything. Chief Dan Flynn says the idea is simple. "If there is going to be a robbery, you don't know if you are walking into a stakeout."

Lt. Richard Zapal hopes criminals take note and beware. "If you can prevent this stuff without them coming in the store, that's what you are looking for," he said.

"Oh, I love the idea," Parker's Beth Harn said. She says the stakeout idea has already paid of with officers nabbing a shoplifter. "They took care of it immediately."

Charlie Russo is not sure the stakeout idea would have prevented what happened to his store. Someday he may find out.

"Naturally, everything can help," he said.

Reported by: Don Logana, dlogana@wtoc.com

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