DURHAM, N.C. — Some Durham store owners are partnering with the city, police and each other to battle against armed robberies at convenience stores.
Hellen Kariuki is one storeowner working together with other in the business to fight a crime that has left four convenience store workers dead over the past two years. Most recently, masked robbers shot and killed Ahmed Raja, 44, May 17 at Hilltop Food Mart during a convenience store robbery.
"We are hoping for a safer working environment," said Kariuki, whose store Lighthouse Food Mart has been robbed in the past.
Kariuki hopes the city can provide grant money for bulletproofing their stores. She also wants increased patrols at convenience stores during closing time -- when most robberies occur.
Storeowners are also compiling a database of suspects arrested in convenience store crimes. They want to follow up on court dates, and put pressure on District Attorneys to ensure suspects are prosecuted.
Officers are also pitching robbery prevention workshops to help out shop owners. Durham police point out, for example, that most convenience stores have signs plastered all over the windows, making it tough to see inside, and making it easier for robbers to commit their crimes.
The group has already set three crime prevention workshops in June and July.
"I want to be able to say I live and work in Durham, and feel good about it and feel safe," Kariuki said.