Friday, June 3, 2011
Police: UWS Starbucks Don't Cooperate With Anti-Crime Efforts
Upper West Side police say Starbucks locations around the neighborhood don't cooperate with some of the NYPD's crime prevention efforts, DNAinfo reports.
Cops said the cafes refuse to let police hand out fliers, post signs or train employees about preventing thefts.
"I guess they felt like it gave their establishment a negative image," Officer Jason Harper, of the 26th Precinct, told the website.
The 26th precinct covers parts of the Upper West Side, Morningside Heights and Harlem.
Harper, a community affairs officer, said he ran into problems when he asked the manager of a Starbucks near Columbia University for permission to post signs reminding customers to keep an eye on their purses and laptops. The manager refused.
Adrian Carmona, president of the 26th Precinct's Community Council, said he received a similar reaction when he volunteered to put up "watch your bag" signs at a Starbucks in Morningside Heights.
"They told me that what people did with their property was not their concern," Carmona told DNAinfo. "They wanted no part of any offer of assistance."
Starbucks cafes are a common target for Upper West Side thieves, who typically strike when customers hang belongings on the back of a chair or leave their laptops to go to the bathroom.
In the 20th Precinct, which runs from West 59th to 86th streets between Central Park and the Hudson River, there were 27 thefts at Starbucks in 2009 and 15 in 2010.
Police said a simple flier at the cash register reminding customers to be vigilant could help reduce thefts.
Alan Hilowitz, spokesman for Starbucks, disputed the claim that the cafes refuse to cooperate with neighborhood police.
He told the website that Starbucks employees meet regularly with the NYPD to review security procedures.
Hilowitz added that Starbucks employees are trained to do regular checks of the store to ensure cleanliness and security, and that Starbucks headquarters recently reminded store employees nationwide to keep an eye out for suspicious activity.
In addition, he said, several of Starbucks' busiest locations posted signs warning customers against thefts, but he couldn't give details on exactly which stores those were.
"The responsibility lies on both sides," Hilowitz said. "We need to keep our eyes open and our customers need to do the same thing."