While Baltimore’s three-year spike in violent crime draws most of the attention, business owners across the city have suffered a similar increase in commercial robberies, the Baltimore Sun reports. Such crime has risen 88 percent in the last five years, from 560 commercial robberies in 2013 to more than 1,000 last year. Business owners are complaining of threats outside their stores: drug dealing, intimidation, stabbings and shootings. They’re fighting back with security measures — guards, surveillance cameras, door buzzer systems — moving out of the city or, in some cases, shutting down.
“Our members are very concerned,” said Cailey Locklair Tolle of the Maryland Retailers Association. “Unfortunately, a lot of our members don’t relocate. It’s a massive endeavor. A lot of times they just go out of business.” Police have taken notice, and say recent arrests should make a dent. Five men have been charged in at least six robberies across the city. “It’s a small group of people responsible for these,” police spokesman T.J. Smith said. Smith said police are increasing checks on stores and are monitoring CitiWatch cameras more closely. He described an apparent robbery attempt thwarted by CitiWatch personnel in January. Two men appeared to be casing a 7-Eleven store downtown. It had been robbed days earlier, and three times last year. The CitiWatch personnel directed officers to the store. They confronted the suspects at the front door. At least one officer and one suspect fired at each other, but no one was injured. The suspects escaped.