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Charlotte Amalie
Monday, March 27, 2023


April 7, 2004 – Security is a major concern and a major expense for many commercial enterprises on St. Croix, but there's pressure not to employ armed guards these days, according to a small businessman whose shop has been robbed twice in recent months and the owner of the island's largest shopping center.
Sunny Isle Shopping Center has 24-hour security with mobile guards, a centrally located security station, mounted cameras and roof sensors, Ralph de Chabert, president, said on Wednesday. "These guards are professionals, and those are the measures we have taken for years," he said.
The security is provided by ADT and Intel Security, he said, and the guards are trained and work closely with the Police Department.
But "we'll never arm them," de Chabert said.
Having armed guards is a liability issue that can greatly increase the rates charged to merchants for security services, he explained. "It is very expensive," he said, and even with unarmed guards, "it is one of our major expenses."
He put the Sunny Isle cost at more than $200,000 a year.
But without 24-hour security, there would be "20 times more" incidents such as robberies, thefts and assaults, de Chabert said. The guards and the surveillance devices "are visual, so that deters incidents," he said.
However, there are no guarantees.
On Saturday, two armed men wearing ski masks startled morning shoppers minutes after the Mini Shop in Sunny Isle opened its doors for business. It was the second robbery of the store in eight months. In the first, last July, the owners say robbers got away with more than $50,000.
"The best thing is that no one got hurt," owner Ram Bansal said of last weekend's incident, which he said occurred in little more than five minutes. "The guys did not spend much time, thank God!"
The store has been a tenant in the shopping center for 27 years, but "we might have to consider closing," Bansal said. "It's a terrible situation."
He said the business employed an armed guard at one point but was advised against it by its insurance company and the Sunny Isle management.
De Chabert said the corridor where the jewelry store is located is secured with four video cameras and that the tapes from the time of the robbery have been turned over to police investigators.
Two men were detained for questioning after witnesses described the getaway vehicle, which was found in the Sion Hill area, according to Sgt. Thomas Hannah, police spokesman.
Also on Saturday, police arrested a suspect in the armed robbery that afternoon of the Catherine's Rest Mini Mart. ADT Security reported to police that an alarm had been activated at the store around 1:45 p.m. The robber fled on foot but with an "excellent description from witnesses," the suspect was apprehended within minutes with a handgun and the cash allegedly taken from the cash register.
"Incidents happen everywhere," Simone Palmer, vice president of Frederiksted's Sand Castle on the Beach resort, said. "It's no different than anywhere else. We are actively engaged in making conditions as safe as possible for both visitors and residents. We have to tread carefully about making things bigger than they are."
Not far from the hotel, a 50-year-old man was assaulted and robbed by two assailants on Sunday evening while walking near Dorsch Beach, police said.
Police also received a call on Sunday morning that the VP Service Station in Tide Village had been robbed at gunpoint.
Last year the government mounted security cameras along the streets of all of the territory's towns. The Law Enforcement Planning Commission provided funding for their purchase. (See "Priority setup of St. Croix cameras ordered".) "We support all prevention initiatives," Meredith Nielsen, LEPC grant administrator, said.
Hannah asked that anyone with knowledge of any crime contact police by calling 778-2211, 778-4950 or 911.

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