Pubdate: Sat, 15 Sep 2007
Source: Chronicle Herald (CN NS)
Copyright: 2007 The Halifax Herald Limited


SYDNEY -- Addicts looking to score some easy cash are the main cause 
behind the increasing number of armed robberies in the Sydney area, 
the associate chief of police said Friday.

Nearly 30 armed robberies have taken place in Sydney in 2007 -- a 
spike of more than 30 per cent compared to last year's figures.

"There's a rise in the robberies and most of the (suspects) say the 
only reason they're doing it is because they have drug problems," 
Associate Chief Dave Wilson said. "It's a quick cash grab so they can 
go get a quick fix."

Associate Chief Wilson cited crack cocaine, ecstasy, cocaine and 
alcohol as the more common drugs used by the robbers.

To date, there have been 28 armed robberies in Sydney, the associate 
police chief said, which is up from only 21 incidents in 2006. Last 
year's statistics used data from all twelve months.

Another six robberies occurred this year in Sydney, but no one 
reported being threatened by a weapon.

In the past two weeks, the Big Ben Store on Prince Street has been 
held up three times. At least two of the robberies occurred in the 
wee hours of the morning, prompting the associate police chief to 
suggest that businesses close their doors at 10 p.m.

A manager for the Big Ben Store said she did not want to comment 
about the store's security or the associate chief of police's suggestion.

"We're doing things here and we'll talk about that when we get things 
in place," the manager said.

When asked to elaborate, the woman refused to speak further.

But Associate Chief Wilson said he would like to meet with the night 
owls who stay open for business at all hours.

A representative from the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce did not 
return calls by press time.

It would be good to brainstorm ideas about how to make everyone 
safer, the associate police chief said. He said that the system used 
at late-night gas stations -- where customers pay at the pump -- is 
an example of how businesses have used technology to protect their 
employees, adding that buzzers and drive-thru windows can create a 
false sense of security.

In August, a gas station clerk in Dartmouth had her throat slit and 
was sexually assaulted by a customer she buzzed in.

"It's some protection, but it's not the be-all and end-all," 
Associate Chief Wilson said. "Just because you buzz somebody in 
doesn't mean they don't have a gun . . . or a knife concealed."
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