More info and crime prevention advice in the wake of those three armed robberies this month in Walnut Creek

Sgt. Tom Cashion kindly filled me in on some more details about a cluster of armed robberies of businesses this past month that prompted police to send out a special advisory. In an e-mail exchange, he also offers some good crime prevention advice to local residents, community groups, and even schools. And he reminds us of how to sign up for a new e-mail alert system that can help them stay informed on crimes and other serious incidents happening in town.

Regarding the robberies: two occurred at banks, and one involved a North Main Street pharmacy.

The bank robberies took place last week. The first happened Tuesday, the 19th, at about 10:52 a.m. at the Chase Bank in the Palos Verde Mall, located at the corner of Pleasant Hill Road and Geary Boulevard. The next morning, a man (pictured here) robbed the Bank of the West at 2050 North California Blvd.

The third armed robbery took place the previous weekend on Saturday, January 16. Two men, one armed with a revolver, robbed an employee of Walgreen’s on North Main Street.

After receiving the advisory, I e-mailed Walnut Creek police with some follow-up questions, and Sgt. Cashion replied.  Here’s our e-mail Q&A:

SM: Any indication that any of these are related?
TC: There is no indication that they are related at this time.
SM: Any concern that this January spate marks any rise in violent crimes?
TC: No, its just odd for Walnut Creek to have three armed robberies within days of each other. … Our [January 2010] stats are not done yet, but for for the 2008 year we had approximately 57 robberies; in 2009 we had 41 robberies.
SM: Are certain businesses more at risk? Those near major thoroughfares, free entrances, exits?
TC: Yes, this is true.
SM: How can businesses, or people living near businesses at risk, protect themselves?
TC: The best prevention is to be alert and report any suspicious activity. We often hear from witnesses and victims, after a crime is committed, “I knew there was something just not right, I should have called earlier.” We encourage the community to call us when they see any suspicious activity. We are here to serve them and we need to continue our partnership with them to keep our community safe and prosperous.
SM: In the department’s advisory, it said that police were proactively working with businesses and residents to educate them and help them protect themselves. Any more specifics on how your officers are doing that?
TC: We are using a multifaceted approach which contains e-mail alerts and Critical Reach flyers sent by our Community Policing Team to the Downtown Business Association (DBA) and Broadway Plaza. Our detective bureau is sending the same to our bank network (which consists of quarterly meetings at the police department with detectives and our local banks. We have also sent our Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) and Cadets reaching out to the banks that do not currently attend the meetings and request that they do. They are also obtaining a manager’s name and e-mail so we can update them more expeditiously. … In addition, we have suggested all of the businesses and schools as well as the community as a whole to sign up for Nixle alerts by going to http://www.nixle.com/. Hopefully, some of your readers will sign up for this free service. Our Community Policing Team will be sending out more crime prevention information in the next In the Nutshell. 

Thanks again, Sgt. Cashion, for this information.

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