VIPD Detective Kenneth Smalls promised “results pretty soon” to residents at last week’s community crime meeting in Coral Bay.
CORAL BAY — The V.I. Police Department came out in force at the start of the much-anticipated May 27 meeting at the Oasis by the Sea with Coral Bay business owners and residents concerned about the mini-crime wave in the isolated community, armed with the results of their surreptitious security survey of the handful of businesses locations.
Reports on the nighttime security review conducted on individual businesses in advance of the meeting were presented to a gathering of about 30 residents and business owners by a group of more than seven VIPD representatives including an officer specifically assigned to Coral Bay — along with professional suggestions of improving lighting and reducing brush for increased visibility around the half dozen major businesses or business centers in the isolated community.
“I understand that WAPA is high,” one VIPD COP member told the small group of residents and business owners who have been looking for help in the face of a series of robberies and burglaries of Coral Bay businesses and business owners homes. “Because of the light bill you compromise the safety and protection of your business.”
“You don’t want to sacrifice your business because of lights,” another COP member advised. “Criminals don’t like to be seen.”
“You compromise your security,” said another member of the VIPD COP team urging business owners to “groom your shrubs.”
“Business owners must secure their businesses to the best of their ability,” one VIPD COP officer told the group, after specifically pointing out that the front door locks were inadequate at the Calabash Market in the isolated community of Calabash Boom on the south shore of Coral Bay.
The small neighborhood market was the recent victim of an early-morning burglary in which the ATM machine and cash register were taken after thieves broke through the locks on the front door of the roadside store. (Calabash Market owner Ali subsequently told law enforcement officials security improvements were underway.)
Security Tactics Suggested
The VIPD task force followed up their report on security lapses by local businesses with a detailed a liturgy of standard security tactics for businesses, specifically for those closing at night, including suggestions for handling cash receipts.
When the VIPD officials were almost finished castigating the community members and business owners, one victim of the recent crime wave against Coral Bay businesses — Calabash Market owner Ali Bayatnah, who had missed the report on the security analysis of his business earlier in the meeting — spoke up about security tactics.
“I agree… yesterday I closed at 9 p.m., the night before 8:30 p.m.… ,” the business owner told the law enforcement officers. “But, we don’t feel safe any more.”
“Some of these businesses can’t afford” the security improvements, another resident told the VIPD representatives.
“They are just watching how we do it,” the business owner added of the daily concern about crime. “They know the money is somewhere.”
After noting that his business was not included in the VIPD security survey report, longtime resident business owner Doug Bean, the owner of the iconic Coral Bay establishment Skinny Legs, explained that his business — a frequent burglary target — had the best security possible.
“I still get broken into,” Bean said of his enhanced, top-of-the-line security system. “I need a police presence between the hours of 8 p.m. and 10 a.m.”
Mobile Substation To Move — Away
Bean asked pointedly when the VIPD Coral Bay mobile substation, which has been parked — unused — between the V.I. Fire Department and Skinny Legs for more than ten years, might be put into operation.
“Any plans to open the portable substation?” Bean asked.
After being criticized in the morning’s security lecture, the audience was silenced when VIPD officials told the meeting audience they were “going to look at it today” and there were plans to refurbish and relocate the mobile station — but not in Coral Bay.
Although there was “no general time frame” for returning the mobile station to Coral Bay, VIPD officials hoped to “clean out and move” the command trailer, according to VIPD officials.
“We can’t stop crime but we can put a dent in it,” one official said.
VIPD officials also introduced the newly assigned Coral Bay officer, a native veteran officer, and promised Coral Bay policing would include a regular program of “stop, walk and talk” by VIPD officers in the community.