OXFORD, N.C. — Oxford merchants say they have seen in increases in identity theft, stolen credit cards and shoplifting.
They believe thieves see the rural small town as easy pickings, but stor owners have a few tricks of their own.
Ever since merchant Judy Tingen says someone posed a customer, got their hands on jewelry and ran from her store, she requires customers to hand over their driver's license or photo identification before she hands over any jewelry.
"If they won't give me a photo ID or I don't know who they are, I'm not going to hand it across the counter. I've learned," she said.
Oxford merchants also combat crime with the buddy system.
The buddy system involves two stores, located side-by-side, sharing a wireless intercom. If one store is having trouble, the owner presses the button and calls for help.
"Say I'm not here and it's just a lady here by herself, she can call somebody and feel safe abut it," merchant Robert Howells said.
Oxford Police Chief John Wolford is developing fax and e-mail alerts that notifies all merchants at once of any suspicious criminal activity in the area.
Wolford also put the officers on the beat back on their feet.
"The parking enforcement officer walks. He's not in a vehicle, so he's face-to-face with those people day in and day out," he said.
The problem is not just downtown.
Several businesses close to Interstate 85, which provides a quick getaway, have also been hit. The robberies at Friedman's Jewelers and a Best Western Hotel remain unsolved.
Anyone with information is asked to call Granville County Crime Stoppers at (919) 693-3100.
Oxford Police Hope Better Surveillance Equipment Helps Curb Crime