“We’re trying to bring a little awareness to our businesses that things happen — sometimes bad,” Patterson-Westley Chamber of Commerce president Carolyn Harr said. “The police department is doing all they can, but they can’t be everywhere, and we need our businesses to help be eyes and ears.”
Several chamber members who serve as “ambassadors” are canvassing businesses to gauge interest. So far, the feedback has been positive, said Vivian Ratliff, director of ambassadors for the local chamber.
She said she had a good response from 10 local businesses that she visited Sept. 2.
Those included J.M. Equipment at 16507 Highway 33, where parts manager Manuel Fernandes took part in a survey the chamber is conducting to determine whether there is interest in a business watch.
The farm equipment retailer had experienced some vandalism, which subsided when employees stored their equipment behind a fence, Fernandes said.
He said he would like to know from the police department what types of crimes are happening in the area and how they are occurring, so he can take measures to prevent them from happening at his business.
Napa-Greer Motor Parts, another business along Ratliff’s route, endured graffiti problems at its former South Third Street location before recently moving to 305 S. Second St., owner Erma Sarasqueta said.
As she took the survey, Sarasqueta said she was in favor of a business watch program.
The business watch is being patterned after a successful watch built in Turlock, Harr said.
“I saw what Turlock was doing, and I thought it was something we could benefit from,” she said.
Sharon Silva, CEO of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce, said the business watch there has opened up lines of communication not only with the police but between businesses.
“They started with a downtown group of businesses and it has grown,” she said. “If there’s been a robbery or any issues, the police and businesses are immediately talking about possible policy and what can be done.”
Still, any business watch will likely have its limits. The Turlock program has stopped major crime, but hasn’t really slowed lesser crimes such as vandalism, according to John Jaureguy, owner of Jaureguy’s Paint and Decorating.
“I think it’s helped when there’s been a crime with another business,” he said. “If something happens, you’re letting others know, so from that standpoint, it’s been a success.”
Vandalism and graffiti are still a real concern, he said, but there has been more communication between businesses and police, he said.
A date has not been set for an organizational meeting in Patterson, but one is expected in the next two weeks, Harr said.
• Nick Rappley can be reached at 892-6187 or firstname.lastname@example.org.