Gulfport Police Department begins business watch program

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport businesses are uniting to fight against crime. Tuesday, the Gulfport Police Department hosted its first ever Business Watch meeting. They partnered with ASIS International to host the meeting.

Thomas E. Scott, who is a security expert, said there are several simple things businesses can do to protect their assets.

"Just a simple greeting and identifying a piece of garment a lady or a gentleman would wear will deter shoplifting," said Scott.

Scott said the group has really been looking for outlets to share their knowledge as experts in the field of physical security and robbery training. Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania met with the group a while back and decided their wealth of knowledge on security needed to be shared with local businesses.

"Every day we have businesses in Gulfport that are victimized, both internally and externally. And what we're trying to do is help our local businesses take better steps to ensure their profits are their profits and they're not losses to crime," said Papania.

Owner of Let's Do Furniture, Jannie Giglio, closed her store an hour early just to attend the meeting. She said a robbery near her store has sparked some concern.

"This area seems to be involved in a lot of bank robberies, and also some robberies down at the Dollar General and a few of the dollar stores around this area, so that's our biggest concern is that someone may come in and decide that they want to rob us," said Giglio.

Mark Cruthirds, owner of Brooklyn's Pizzeria, shares Giglio's concerns.

"I worry about it all the time, as far as night time and closing up. I worry about counterfeit money coming in. I mean, there are all kinds of concerns when you own your own business," said Cruthirds.

Chief Papania said this is the first of many security awareness meetings for business owners. He hopes to see more businesses join the program. To learn more about how to join Gulfport's Business Watch program, visit:

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