Pick 'n Save's Move Across Street Causing Some Headaches
Since moving across 76th Street last August, Greenfield police have responded to double the calls from the store, and neighbors have concerns for their safety.
Before being caught by store employees, however, one of the men fled the scene. He jumped a fence into the backyard of one of the neighboring residences.
When he was apprehended, police found a crack pipe in his pants pocket, according to the Greenfield Police Department Aug. 13 report.
Three days later, some of those same neighbors witnessed a woman clean out a purse she allegedly just stole from the Pick 'n Save parking lot. Minutes earlier, she and her male companion grabbed the purse from a woman's cart, hopped the fence and made their way through the neighborhood before being tracked down by police.
Neighbors clearly have had enough with such happenings at Pick 'n Save since it moved across 76th Street last August, and discussions with city and company officials have begun.
"We have people jumping the fence, coming through our yard," said neighbor Sandra Parins at Tuesday's Common Council meeting.. "It’s not safe."
Parins was one of several neighbors who address Mayor Michael Neitzke and aldermen during the meeting. Their complaints centered on alleged retail thefts but also included litter, noise and traffic issues — but, public safety was tops on residents' minds.
Police calls to store have doubled
According to Greenfield Police Chief Brad Wentlandt, police have responded to more than double the calls at Pick 'n Save in the year since it relocated when compared to the previous year in its former location.
Police had been to Pick 'n Save 310 times (excluding business checks) from Aug. 16, 2011, the date the new building opened, to Aug. 14, 2012. From Aug. 15, 2010 to Aug. 14, 2011, police responded 149 times.
The biggest reason for the increase is the 125 retail theft calls police have addressed in the last year, compared to just seven in the previous year. Wentlandt said the increase is related to Pick 'n Save's updated theft-prevention measures.
"They have a very active loss prevention program at the new store," Wentlandt said. "Pick 'n Save has less 'crime' than most other large retail stores. The number of retail theft calls is entirely dependent on how aggressive loss prevention is at a particular store."
New policies or procedures or not, residents are concerned.
One man, whose wife called the police on the female purse-snatcher, said his wife is afraid to go outside and afraid to be home alone.
"I watched the guy jump the fence with the Pick 'n Save managers chasing him," he said. "I have two children. I have a 14-year-old and a 1-year old. This is not what we moved here for."
"We’re dealing with undesirable people coming into our neighborhood," said neighbor Lori Merk. "It used to be safe. It used to be peaceful. … This has to stop because we live in this neighborhood. We did not ask for Pick 'n Save to come across the street. When they were over there, if someone stole something, they had to deal with crossing 76th street and possibly getting hit.
"There needs to be a barrier so we don’t hear the sound and it has to be high enough so people can’t jump over."
Retail theft only part of the problem
Not all the concerns are related to retail theft.
Pick 'n Save is open from 6 a.m. to 1 a.m. and residents say the noise from the parking lot — engine ignitions, car alarms, carts banging into each other — keeps them up, and if the normal, every day noises don't, the parking-lot sweeper that comes in at 1:30 a.m. does.
"It sounds like a tornado siren," Lynne Kusisto said.
Residents said the building that used to stand there, a strip mall that included a Sentry, also used to provide a sound barrier for traffic noise from 76th Street.
Parins also said litter has become a problem in her yard, where she has found a pair of used women's underpants.
"If I'm finding women's soiled underwear in my yard, what else is going on in this parking lot," she said. "A fence is not enough. We need a sound barrier. … It will keep the rift-raft out of the area."
The residents also expressed concerns about cars safely entering and leaving the parking lot. Merk said she and her dog have gotten hit by cars coming out of the lot, and the man whose wife called police on the alleged purse-snatcher said he’s been hit twice during early morning runs.
Mayor Michael Neitzke told the residents at the meeting he would get a DVD recording directly to Roundy’s personnel. In a follow-up e-mail with Patch, he said something’s got to give.
"It's pretty clear that better barriers to the neighborhood — a taller fence, likely —no late night/early morning parking lot sweeping, enhanced parking lot oversight, and safer egress out of the lot need to be looked at after the commentary (Tuesday).
"While the store itself is a tremendous and much needed improvement over their old store across the street, I hear a lot of less than flattering comments about their design of the parking lot — which, despite the rumors, the city didn't design."
Vivian King, Director of Public Affairs for Roundy’s Supermarkets, said in an e-mail the company just recently learned of some of the residents' concerns.
"However, our real estate and loss prevention departments are looking into these matters in hopes of assessing the concerns and resolving them quickly," King said.