ATLANTA — A new move by the Atlanta Police Department has many small businesses feeling vulnerable.
The department announced earlier this week that, due to a recent uptick in crimes across Zone 2, which encompasses the Buckhead area, the Police Department will not be dispatching officers to shoplifting calls in most cases.
For big-box stores, hiring their own security isn’t as much as a burden as it is for the smaller stores, such as the men's store Labels.
Labels said the move by the Police Department could possibly make the store's closed sign permanent.
"Weekends are insane. We get a lot of people coming through these doors," sales associate Daniel Laos told Channel 2's Lauren Pozen.
Labels is a hot spot for high-end men’s clothing at discounted prices.
But like any retail store, Label’s in Buckhead has had people getting their hands on merchandise without paying.
“Usually, anything by the door. They will see a shirt and be, like, ‘Oh,’ and run out,” Laos said.
Laos told Pozen that the Police Department’s new policy on shoplifting is a major concern.
“I am not going to risk my life or get shot in the face or something for a guy that is taking a shirt,” Laos said.
The department said it is changing its focus to what it says is an uptick in crimes such as car theft and robberies in Zone 2, which encompasses Buckhead, Piedmont Heights, West Midtown and Lenox Park.
Officers won’t be dispatched to shoplifting calls, and stores in one of the city’s major shopping districts will be on their own.
The Police Department suggests that retailers develop a security plan that is less dependent on police.
Laos said that is easier said than done.
“If you are a Walmart, you can hire security because you are a billion-dollar company. When you are a local business that is locally owned and managed, you are not going to be able to hire private security,” Laos said.
When Pozen spoke with the Police Department on Friday, officials told her they are sympathetic toward small businesses and that, while the major issue is with big-box stores, this policy change does affect all of the retail business in Zone 2.
The Police Department said it will offer a free security assessment to stores, in which officers will come out and offer suggestions on ways to tighten up security.
Cox Media Group