According to the Benicia Police Department, when thieves broke into the Discount Cigarette store in Southampton Shopping Center early in the morning of November 6, 2012, they got away with about $15,000 worth of cigarettes. The theives took advantage of some holes in security at the center.
The center’s owner, Weingarten Realty of Houston Texas refused to elaborate on security but store owners say there is a security guard who patrols the center from afternoon until midnight. “I get billed for the guard every year,” said Todd Bigelow, owner of Roundtable Pizza.
The burglary at the tobacco store took place around 2:30 a.m. – after the security guard goes home. The other measure that might deter thieves, 24 hour surveillance cameras covering the entrances and exits of the center and the delivery areas in the back, do not exist.
Owners wouldn’t mind added security patrols but would like to see the center’s owners absorb the cost.
“If they add hours for the security they’ll make us pay,” said David Gonzales, owner of Ensenada Mexican Restaurant. “The rent is too high already.”
Some stores have their own video surveillance cameras but unless a thief drives by that particular store, their comings and goings won’t be recorded.
Bigelow, the Round Table Pizza owner, says his restaurant has been burglarized “four or five times in the 21 years I’ve been here.”
He remembers the night thieves broke into his restaurant on the Southampton Shopping Center and stole the safe. “The alarm company called me first instead of the police,” said Bigelow. “That extra few minutes might have been what the thieves needed to get away. Now my safe is bolted to the floor.”
“Overall though, I think it’s a pretty safe shopping center,” said Bigelow.
Cris Gonzales has worked at the Starbucks in the Southampton Shopping Center for about eight years. “I’ve been here so long I’ve seen almost every store get robbed,” she said.
Benicia police patrol at the center when they can. “They (patrol officers) aren’t required to drive through the center,” said Lt. Frank Hartig. “Whether they actively patrol there depends on factors like the volume of service calls an officer receives while on shift.”
“I think they could use cameras,” said Trina Harder, an employee at one of the stores in the center. “I park in the back and when I leave and it’s dark, there’s usually no one back there.”
Do you feel safe shopping at the Southampton Shopping Center? Should the center's owners install cameras at the entrances to deter theives?
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