Store owners unite against drug sales

Store owners in the Hadar neighborhood have decided to band together and pay for private security guards to patrol the neighborhood and keep drug dealers and addicts away from their homes and businesses, reports Yediot Haifa.

The store owners say that the neighborhood has become a meeting place for unsavory characters who are frightening customers and residents, but in the absence of any police or municipal actions, they are being forced to protect themselves. According to the report, drug sales have become common in streets such as Kikar Masaryk, Hanevi'im, Herzl and Hehalutz. The store owners say the addicts steal handbags, pick pockets, break into shops and cars, and act violently, scaring them and potential customers - but the police are doing little to stop them. So the store owners have decided to hire private security guards who will patrol the area, protect the stores and photograph illegal activities, passing the evidence on to police in an attempt to force them to remove the trouble-makers. "What Rudolph Giuliani did in New York we will do in Hadar," one store owner said, referring to the former mayor's campaign to clean street crime from his city. "The municipality is ignoring the problem, the police are ignoring the problem, and we are being left every day to deal with the phenomenon of drug addicts and the rest of these negative types who wander around our streets." But one drug rehabilitation expert said moving the addicts off some streets would not solve the problem, as they would simply congregate elsewhere. And a police spokesman said dozens of police patrol the Hadar neighborhood daily and have already reduced crime there to a recognizable extent. The spokesman added that police long ago suggested that the store owners form a "neighborhood watch" group, but they had not been interested. Nevertheless, he said that the police welcomed any initiative that would help reduce crime.