Crime

Belleville battling robbery spree at convenience store

City leaders hope the plan will combat a series of crimes at a west end convenience store.
City leaders hope the plan will combat a series of crimes at a west end convenience store.

Belleville city leaders said Thursday they hope to announce plans as soon as next week designed to stop a crime wave at a local convenience store in west Belleville.

Mayor Mark Eckert said he’s heard complaints from neighbors as well as students and staff at nearby Lindenwood University about the Circle K store at 2709 W. Main St.

The store has been the target of six armed robberies in less than two years.

“We have a meeting with the corporate people (from Circle K) in the next couple of days in which we plan to talk to them about some of the steps we want to take,” Eckert said. “There are some things in the works. But I don’t want to reveal what they are until we have a chance to talk to them about it.”

Circle K representatives did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

Lindenwood University - Belleville President Jerry Bladdick said he’s relieved to hear the city is taking action.

“I am pleased to learn that Mayor Eckert and and city officials are looking into the recent rash of robberies at the Circle K on West Main Street,” Bladdick said in a written response to a reporter’s questions about the situation. “The string of robberies (has) concerned me for many months, as well as concerned the faculty, staff and students who live or work near the Circle K.”

Bladdick said he hopes operators of the store are receptive to making changes for the safety of their employees and the surrounding neighborhood.

“I realize that Circle K is the victim of ongoing, hideous crimes,” he said. “and I encourage them to take steps that might discourage future crimes such as posting their own security guards in the late evening hours of operations, closing before midnight, as most of the robberies have occurred after 12 a.m.”

Eckert said, in the meantime, police stepped up their patrols in the area following the most recent armed robbery which occurred April 24. He said he’s authorized overtime pay for police officers to make sure the store is well-covered.

Neighbors who didn’t want to use their names said they think the fact that the store is open 24 hours a day is a problem. They said they’d also like to see armed security at the store to stem the tide of crime there.

While the Circle K in question certainly isn’t the only convenience store to be robbed over the past two years, Eckert said police are investigating what it is about that location that makes it such an attractive target.

Bladdick said Lindenwood leaders are willing to assist in any way to help resolve the problem.

“My first priority is for the safety of Lindenwood students, faculty and staff,” Bladdick said. “Therefore, I will, and Lindenwood will, play any role in this matter that will assist Circle K management and city officials in limiting crime in this area.”

Contact reporter Scott Wuerz at swuerz@bnd.com or 618-239-2626. Follow him on Twitter: @scottwuerzBND.

Dates of armed robberies at the 2709 W. Main St. Circle K location:

July 22, 2013

Aug. 15, 2013

Oct. 3, 2013

June 15, 2014

Jan. 19, 2015

April 24, 2015

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