Doral police and retailers meet up to stop crime

By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español

Doral is one of the safest cities in Miami-Dade County. Nevertheless, it’s a fact that retail stores are targets for burglary. Since the police is not always aware of these incidents that sometimes go unreported, on May 22 Doral Police met up with some retailers to discuss how to act in these cases.

Summoned by Doral Family Journal, Chief of Doral Police Department, Edwin Lopez, Deputy Chief, Manuel Arrebola, Major Leonel J. Ochoa, and seven store managers representing retail businesses in Doral from Sedano’s, Publix, CVS, and Navarro gathered at police facilities at 6100 Northwest and 99th Avenue.

 “It’s important for us to listen to your concerns and share the information we have in terms of crime trends and what we are doing,” the chief of police began saying. He then added crime rate is relatively low today, as in recent years a significant reduction has been observed that he hopes will be maintained in the future. Regarding strengthening police force, the goal is to have 200 officers and little by little that number is getting closer.

Physical integrity must be the priority

After summarizing the police’s actions and successes in reducing crime, such as large-scale functional active shooter drills, the police chief gave the floor to the community that started asking what strategy retailers should follow when they face mass thefts at everyone’s sight.

The question was made in reference to a real case in which a group of thieves broke in a supermarket to fill a shopping cart with items and then escaped in a matter of seconds through the emergency door. After doing so, they unloaded the stolen things into a vehicle.

“In such cases, although we want police officers to get there immediately, if someone’s life is in danger, protecting it is the priority,” Deputy Chief, Manuel Arrebola, says.

Chief Lopez contends that although the department’s response times are among the lowest in the county, sometimes three minutes can be too much to prevent a thief from escaping. “That’s why we are embarking on a campaign where we have officers controlling traffic in many commercial areas, which helps deter crime.”

So does receiving feedback from retailers regarding thefts frequency, monetary loss, areas with the highest crime incidence, and any other information that helps the department strategically deploy its officers at certain times of the day. For this reason, keeping a close communication with the police is key.

“A year and a half ago we had a monumental reduction in thefts related to car catalytic converters because we were able to collect information from victims and analyze the data. That is what we want to do in this situation: learn what retailers are experiencing so we can help them,” Chief Lopez says.

In this regard, a manager said that thieves often work in teams: one person is at the store, while someone else is waiting outside in a car, and in a week, they can take between $1,500 and $2,000 worth of products, although in many instances, employees catch thieves before they commit the crime.

When retailers become victims of burglary, many try to obtain a police report afterwards so that in the event the criminal returns to the store they can notify authorities it’s a repeat offender case. This is a good move according to Major Ochoa.

“If you recognize a person who has already stolen, you should not wait for them to do it again but call the police. If they return, we can make an arrest based on the incident that happened before because there is already evidence of the crime in place, either from a report or because the offender was recorded on camera.”

In stores where thefts leave considerable economic losses, the Doral Police recommend hiring off-duty officers during the hours of the day when usually more issues surface, since it’s better to invest in security than to continue creating losses.

Another option is to join the Connect Doral camera integration program. Businesses that do so will be able to connect their security cameras with the Police Department so that they can monitor them.

The police also suggest not closing the door of a store when you suspect someone intends to steal to avoid putting customers and employees in a potentially dangerous situation. “Call 911 before the theft is done and the person passes through all points of sale. We will be waiting for them outside and after verifying there was a crime, we will arrest them,” says Major Ochoa.

In any situation in which a crime is taking place, it’s always advisable to reach out to the emergency phone line, although to resolve doubts or concerns you can call 305-593-6699.

Finally, the police encourage retailers to not refrain from reporting thefts even if they represent low monetary losses. “They can call us for $10, $15, $20 or whatever the business decides,” says Major Ochoa. Even though thefts under $750 are considered minor crimes, something the police can’t control and that is not incompatible with reporting, when someone accumulates many minor infractions, they can be charged with a felony.


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