Robberies plague area businesses

Published 9:48 pm Wednesday, August 25, 2004

By By Arthur McLean
A rash of break-ins and robberies over the past week has local business owners north of Atmore angry and confused.
Friday morning, two men came into G&G Grocery on Jack Springs Road and robbed the store. Owner Donnie Griffin confronted the men, but he was overpowered. "They wanted more than what they should get, and we wound up getting into a little hand-to-hand combat," Griffin said.
"There were two of them, and they got the better of me."
The robbers made off with an undisclosed amount of money. Griffin recovered from the incident and was back minding the store.
On August 17, theives broke into Doug's Grocery on AL 21 at the intersection of Robinsonville Road. About $300 in change was stolen from the store.
They broke in through what used to be a small window at the back of the store and came in through the building's bathroom, said owner Doug Vickery. The money was the only thing the burglars took, Vickery said. "I usually don't keep that much change in the store," he said. Nothing else was taken he said.
Just south of G&G, the owners of Pickern's Grocery feel they narrowly escaped the recent burglaries. "Usually, we're the first ones to get hit," said Vicky Pickern.
The same day Doug's Grocery was burglarized, the Pickerns called the police about a suspicious man in their store. That man ran before lawmen arrived, Pickern said.
Burglars also broke into the offices of Creek Indian Enterprises over the week. Robert McGhee, president of CIE was not available for comment at press time.
The trend of break-ins and robberies seemed to kick off, August 9, when a man robbed the North Main Shell at gunpoint. Atmore police arrested Kilpatrick Daley shortly after the robbery and charged him with armed robbery.
The same night, offices shared by Escambia River Electric Cooperative and the U.S. Postal Service were burglarized.
In Atmore, B's Fashions on Main Street, and the Family Dollar on Church Street were also burglarized recently.
Most of the businesses robbed and burglarized were small businesses with local owners. For these people, the cost of the crimes is more than just the money stolen. Repairs have to be made, and investments in security systems must be considered.
"I've had to patch that hole, and get it fixed, that's going to cost me money," Vickery said. "They broke the commode, and the plumbers and carpenters cost money."
These business owners are also upset. For Vickery and Griffin, their stores are located outside the city's police jurisdiction, yet, both say they must have city business licenses and pay city sales taxes. But when crime hits their stores, they must call on the Escambia County Sheriff's Department. The Atmore Police Department also reponds to those calls, and in these cases, it did, but the follow-up investigation is being handled by the Sheriff's Department.
"I'm mad at the City of Atmore because I can't get police protection from the city because I'm outside their jurisdiction," Griffin said. "If I have to pay city licenses and taxes the same as businesses in the city, I should have the same protections."

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox