Porterville battles business crime

FRESNO, Calif. Businesses owners and employees from across Porterville had one thought in mind when they gathered at the Porterville Police Department stop business crimes.

The companies received robbery prevention training as part of the Porterville Police Department's brand new program "business watch."

"What to do to help prepare them if a crime happens, so they have the tools needed to protect themselves of becoming a victim of that crime," Crime Prevention Officer Jodi Harper said.

Last year the city of Porterville had 64 robberies, many of them business-related. The Porterville Police Department says it wants to get local businesses, big and small, together, to share information and help stop crimes in their community.

As part of the new program, officers will train businesses on crime prevention and provide networking opportunities.

Businesses say meeting together for the first time was helpful.

"What to do, how to stay calm, when to react," Sai Keovilaysane said.

"The same person that's hitting my store is also going to be hitting the smaller store, so it's not like this person is just going to Target they're going to hit everyone else in town, too," Steve Stockton said.

Crime Prevention Officer Jodi Harper says keeping communication open among city businesses could help prevent future crimes.

"The idea of business watch it kind of simulates the neighborhood watch program but it's for business they also look out for one another in their neighboring communities in their retail community," Harper said.

Harper says businesses can share suspect information and crime trends.

"It's being prepared for anything that may come through the door," Keovilaysane said.

The Business Watch program will meet here at the Porterville Police Department every other month to go over everything from idendity theft, check fraud and gas pump skimming. The next meeting will be on June 8th where officers will train businesses how to spot counterfeit currency.

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