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Business owners on Mercer Street band together for safety

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MERCER COUNTY, W.Va.(WVVA)- "Tis the Season" for crimes of opportunity.

Numerous police agencies say crimes peak around the holiday season. Just this month, Mercer County officers have been investigating three robberies, two of those crimes, armed robbers targeting businesses.

Detective Steven Sommers with the Sheriff's Department is urging business owners and shoppers to stay alert because 'the essence of a crime of opportunity' is the accessibility of available victims.'

"Just be aware of things that seem out of place to you and keep a mental note of it," said Detective Sommers. "If you are confronted by someone, follow their demands because your safety is number 1 priority."

Business owners on Mercer Street say they feel safer, crediting neighboring businesses for keeping a watchful eye.

"As merchants, we set up a Facebook messenger system," said Tammy Dotson, owner of The Hatter's Bookshop. "If one of us feels uncomfortable with something that's going on in the store, we go on the chat and ask someone to come to our location."

Starry Eyes Media, a 'Design Branding and Web Development' company, is one of her neighbors. The company utilizes a door chime to alert the staff about in-store traffic.

"As a small business owner, it's easy to get caught up doing a lot of different things," said Brandon Gilbert, creative director for Starry Eyes Media. "You may not always be front and center and it only takes a few seconds [for a thief] to take things."

Gilbert was bothered to hear about the recent robbery crimes in the county.

"It might be negative news but we need to be aware of it," said Gilbert. "And have a sense of closeness in place with the businesses, to communicate things [that happen].

"We all want to see each other succeed and be safe," said Dotson.

Jennifer Roberts

Multimedia Journalist

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