Copper thefts hurting Liberty City businesses

caines | 1/3/2013, 4:30 a.m.

Mayor commits to more police presence

Liberty City small business owners whose shops are along the 7th Avenue corridor say theyve grown tired of the antics of copper thieves. And to put a stop to the thefts once and for all they recently met with City of Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado and police officials to come up with solid strategy to protect their businesses. The owners have shops from 54th to 62nd Streets and have become frequent targets of criminals intent on stealing copper that can be easily resold. According to Roy Brown, assistant chief of the police, thieves have also added to their list air conditioners and electrical meters, much to the chagrin of the hardworking businesses owners. Regalado has promised that within the next two weeks, there will be a beat officer assigned as well as a greater police presence in the area to reduce the thefts. The mayor has also scheduled a meeting with other city officials to see if there are funds available to replace air conditioning units and other electrical equipment that have been stolen. He also addressed other concerns including: assisting with the demolition and cleaning of abandoned homes and helping with economic development in the area by bringing in investments from abroad. Both the mayor and Brown mentioned several crime prevention measures that would be put into place. I think weve done a decent job, but its not good enough, Brown said. The mayor says he has total confidence in the police chief and staff because they are trying to do the right thing, he said. I was pleased with the outcome and so many businesses showing up, said Christine M. King, president and CEO of the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation, who convened the meeting. We are united to make a difference, see change in the community and have this particular crime displaced. Representatives from several businesses that have been effected by the thefts attended the meeting including: Shantels Lounge, Sheyes of Miami Learning Centers, Tropical Glass and Construction Co., Liberty City Health and Wellness Center, Mop City Unisex Hair Styling Center, Art Forever, Daves Deli and the Martin Luther King Economic Development Corporation.

Businesses to hold mayor to his word

King says she and other businesses will continue to follow up on the promises made by the mayor. But some business owners, who have already spent thousands of dollars replacing stolen items, worry that they may be hit by more vandalism. Juanita Walker-Kirkland, the owner of Sheyes Learning Centers, has had two of her centers robbed. She had copper wiring, an air conditioner and several bicycles stolen. Well see whether or not the mayors going to honor his word and provide high visibility police presence between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m., Walker-Kirkland said. This is when businesses are most affected. By Malika A. Wrightmwright@miamitimesonline.com