By Laura Gibbs
ROCKFORD - A difference in opinion Tuesday night at a northeast Rockford neighborhood meeting about recent robberies in the area.
Some came concerned about crime, specifically recent robberies at the Rural Street Hilander store. Others didn't understand why this area needs extra attention.
The Palmwood group meets once a month to bring up problems often not only taking place in this neighborhood. But September's meeting had a different emphasis since residents wanted to hear from Hilander management.
Last month someone attempted to rob a customer in this Hilander parking lot. It's the fourth attempt here in eight months. Since then Hilander has brought in security seven days a week and made exterior changes. Hilander Store Manager Chuck Shick says, "There's cameras. There's more cameras on the way. We've installed a couple more. We can pretty much see everything around the whole store now. We're doing what we can to make this a safe place to shop and work."
Which might mean wheeling out your groceries every time. In exchange management asks customers to keep contacting police or the store with suspicious activity. A Hilander store employee told the group that there were three arrests last week because of drug activity in the back corner of the parking lot. It was customers who reported the illegal activity to the store.
Crime statistics in the Palmwood area show there isn't really a major spike in illegal activity. Rockford Police Sergeant Marc Welsh says, "This year we are under last year which is what we want. Out goal is to reduce crime. If you talk about the month of August it went from 20 group "Class A" offenses to 16. That's good."
That decline caused some residents to question if what's going on at one grocery store isn't overblown. Palmwood resident Marla Kohls states, "As much as this is a great idea to have the community meetings and to have a community that's tight and watch out for each other I don't want it to be known that this area is crime ridden cause it's not."
Hilander nor Rockford Police could pinpoint what time of day more incidents tend to occur in this area.
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