French Quarter store owners fed up with juvenile theft

Juvenile shoplifters

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Some store owners in the French Quarter say they're sick of being terrorized by juveniles.

NOPD says they responded to a report of theft on Decatur Street on Thursday involving two juveniles. FOX 8 obtained surveillance video of a boy walking through the store who makes his way behind an unmanned register. He successfully opens the drawer and takes off with a wad of cash.

Some managers in the area say this has gotten out of hand.

"We live in the Wild West out here. That's how I feel it is," said Pro Image Sports Manager Ryan Bell.

Bell manages a store geared toward tourists on Decatur, and he said juvenile crime is a serious issue affecting his business.

"I'm always having constant problems with shoplifters. That's one of the main problems I deal with almost daily. It's people coming in and I'm always having to watch people like a hawk," Bell said.

They have cameras throughout the store, but that doesn't seem to matter.

"They don't care, and I even spoke to a police officer and he said that they're tried as minors even if they are caught. A lot of times they're just right back out on the streets," said Ma Sherie Amour owner Sherie Mirpuri.

"The criminals are very very smart, very trained, and they know how to act so they take advantage of the moment and they stay outside, they keep watching. Then when the person is more busy and doing something in the back, they take advantage of that moment," Pro Image Sports owner Ali Hassan said.

In a surveillance video from another store, you see a boy running through the door toward the register, and the employee telling him to leave.

Mirpuri says they weren't so lucky a month ago.

"This little girl came up behind me and goes, ba! you know, and scared me, and I looked at her and I recognized her face. She looked just like her brother. And so I just started looking around and I saw her brother hiding way in the back and coming up to the front. And that day my drawer was missing $300," Mirpuri said.

Some say they may even consider leaving if things don't change.

"It's something that I feel like needs to be enforced more and treated more seriously, because we have a lot of people that are second-time offenders, third-time offenders," Bell said.

The store owners we talked to complained about police response.

NOPD said their main priority is on protecting residents and visitors alike from violent crime. On average, the response time for emergency calls is less than seven minutes.

For non-emergency calls such as shoplifting crimes, the average response time is about 22 minutes.

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