St. Maarten Front Street Merchants take security into their own handsPOSTED: 09/18/15 12:37 PM
St. Maarten – Nine merchants on Front Street have taken their safety into their own hands and hired security services of First Response to monitor and secure their stores during opening hours. First Response CEO Christian Lont confirmed to this newspaper that the merchants have contracted the company for one year.
Security Officers equipped with dogs and communication devices are visible in the vicinity of the stores ranging from Joe’s Jewelry to Shiva’s Gold and Gems store. The merchants have had enough of the robberies in Philipsburg and decided to hire First Response to monitor and secure their businesses. “We have been surveilling the area for some time now and we have seen some strange things and reported this to the police, who we have close contact with. Just last week, we saw a young man taping the area with his phone and acting like he was not taping. This was reported to the police immediately,” Lont said.
The Indian Merchants Association is aware of the move by some of the merchants however they have not decided as yet to join the action and broaden the scope of the security service to Front Street and Backstreet. Four security officers walk the perimeter with K-9 dogs and rotate at different times. First Response is there to secure the area and not police it, Lont says. The police have been more visible around the island. However just last week unknown bandits robbed Splash Jewelers in Pelican Key during the day; they escaped in a getaway vehicle in Cole Bay.
Merchants on Front Street have been voicing their concern for years however their concerns grew even bigger after the unexpected shooting of bike patrol Police Officer Gamali Benjamin on August 5 in front of Oro Diamante jewelry. “We are prepared to deal with any situation and we work closely with the police department,” First Response CEO Lont said. Police continue to monitor Philipsburg with a watchful eye and more manpower, according to the Minister of Justice Dennis Richardson.