When it comes to preventing crime in downtown Olympia, the best thing people can do is to take away the opportunity.
Residents and business owners should lock their doors, keep valuables out of sight, and keep an eye out for suspicious people, said Lt. Aaron Jelcick, of the Olympia Police Department.
“If you see folks wandering around that don’t look right, trust your instincts,” Jelcick said.
Jelcick offered that advice Friday morning at a Downtown Academy on safety and security tips for business owners, hosted by the Olympia Downtown Association. About 20 business owners and employees gathered at City Hall for the discussion.
Mary Corso, of Courtyard Antiques, said one of the problems she faces is shoplifting. She said there are a few people who come into her store repeatedly and take items, even though they’ve been issued no trespassing orders.
“They know they’re not supposed to be there, but they keep coming back,” Corso said.
Jelcick said that once someone has been issued a no trespassing order, they can be arrested if they return to the store.
“I wouldn’t confront them other than to say, ‘I’ve asked you to leave, I’m going to call the police,’” Jelcick said.
He said that in general, people in the downtown business community shouldn’t hesitate to call the police if they’re feeling uncomfortable — even if a crime hasn’t been committed. For example, Jelcick said that if people are loitering near the front door of a business, swearing or making patrons uncomfortable, employees can call the Olympia Police Department’s non-emergency line and request a business check. The number is 360-704-2740.
“We will come, and we’ll just talk to those folks,” Jelcick said.
If employees want to deal with the issues themselves, they should be careful about who they approach, and how they approach them, Jelcick said. He said if people are acting unpredictably, call the police. Otherwise, approach people in pairs.
“I’d just ask them, ‘Do you mind moving on?’” Jelcick said.
Jeff Trinin, of Always Lock and Safe in downtown Olympia, said he’s careful to keep cash bags out of sight while transporting money to the bank.
“Put it inside another bag, put it under something in your car, put it under your seat,” Trinin said. “Don’t just leave it sitting on the seat of your car.”
He said it’s also important for business owners to talk to employees about locking up and other safety practices.
For the most part, Jelcick said, downtown Olympia isn’t dangerous. Most of the crimes that occur there are property crimes and crimes of opportunity. Assaults and robberies are rare.
“Your chances of being the victim of a violent crime in downtown Olympia are relatively low,” Jelcick said.