TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - Petty crime is leading to serious worries at a shopping center on 22nd Street, near Alvernon. KGUN9 News has been hearing complaints about the center for some time. KGUN9 On Your Side's Craig Smith looked into the worries, and what Tucson Police are doing about them.
We have heard some real stories coming out the large shopping center on 22nd Street just east of Alvernon: aggressive shoplifters, scampering off with valuable goods, frightening panhandlers, people wandering the parking lot, trying car doors to see if they can get in and start stealing.
Amy Wiseman's desk gives her a view of the parking lot, and she gets an eyeful.
"We've witnessed a bike theft. We've witnesses two girls fighting in the parking lot; had to call the police, one girl was trying to get away from the other girl. Had to call 911 over that. So we've seen arrests in the front of our business, so we've seen some sketchy things."
At his shop Carlos Barrera watched thieves grab items worth hundreds of dollars, and run for the door---twice in one week.
He's worried about safety for him and his co-workers and says the trouble is worse at night.
"More at night but also during the day, but I'd say more at night but as far as the drug use, like seeing a tent out in the desert, smoking I saw that in the middle of the day."
Workers say they are seeing more police watching the center. Lieutenant Dan Lewis says TPD has the same group of officers check trouble spots because it helps to really know the place and the people.
"They know the history of that area and they know the frequent flyers, if you will, the individuals that move in and out of that particular sector, the ones that may have warrants, the ones that have priors for various crimes and so they have that history and they can more effectively address the problems in that manner."
People and patrol cars are scarce so police use crime stats to decide where to assign tight resources. What TPD calls Zebra units are assigned to deal with trouble spots. Police say to help identify those spots you should not hesitate to report even small incidents through TPD's website or by phone.
Lieutenant Lewis says someone you see commit a petty crime could be involved in something much more serious.
"Now we have individuals that move in and out of all sorts of crimes. With the advent of methamphetamine and some of the drugs, they're involved in part one crimes such as aggravated assault, homicide; so if we get those calls of a person who's looking into a vehicle that person may have also committed more serious crimes and it gives us the ability to contact that individual and see what they're doing."
And police say while they work to suppress crime you can reduce your chance of being a victim by making sure people around you can see you are alert to any threat that might appear.