Bank robberies spark extensive efforts

    6:28 PM, Nov 8, 2011   |    comments
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    BENTON, Ark. (KTHV) -- "We're trying to improve the safety of the business community here in Benton," says Lt. Monte Hodge with the Benton Police Dept.

    Lt. Hodge along with the entire Benton Police force is now faced with a difficult task. That's how to stop a crime before it happens.

    "We started going in and visiting with our bank employees and made sure they're up-to-date on their bank alarm procedures," says Lt. Hodge.

    Authorities are pushing a watch program, which will take all the fundamentals of a neighborhood watch and place them into city businesses.

    Following several, week-old bank robberies in Little Rock, the department feels it's time to kick the program into high gear, but admits its success lies with business owners.

    "How much they put into it is how much they'll get out of it," Hodge says.

    Owners who enroll, will receive emails alerting them of suspicious and repeat crimes in the area along with security checks, making sure all systems and procedures meet proper standards.

    This means business owners like Mack McManus of Rhea's Formal Wear can place his mind at ease, when he locks up each day.

    "We get the ancillary benefit of two or three of us looking out for each other, which makes it greater than one person looking after his own individual store," says McManus.

    City officials are also onboard with the project and call it a proactive, but needed approach.

    "We know crime is around and just like it is with our homes and businesses, the same is true for our business community," says Gary James of the Benton Chamber of Commerce.

    Only time will tell if the watch program will actually benefit those involved, and with more onboard leaders believe those odds will only increase.

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