Northwood business owners say crime hurting their bottom line

Posted at 11:03 PM, Feb 20, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-21 05:55:21-05

Star the dog keeps watch over Northwood Road.

"As long as he gets his chicken, his meatballs, he's happy!" said his owner, Turgut "TK" Kaytmaz.

ButTK, who runs Cafe Centro in Northwood, thinks Star needs some help. He's concerned about crime from surrounding neighborhoods, filtering into their business district. Last month, he said his cashier got robbed while biking home.

"They knocked my cashier with their car. And they robbed him, took 20 dollars and his telephone," he said.

The West Palm Beach neighborhood that sees itself on the rise, but the crime is seen by many as a problem that business owners worry may stunt that growth.

A bad review on Facebook or twitter -- or any number of social media sites can damage the reputation of a business before it gets off the ground. That's why business owners and customers in the Northwood community sounded off on social media this weekend over some bad online reviews about crime.
But others hope raising awareness will make a difference.

TK says the area is still up and coming and with expansion comes the need for more patrols to keep people safe.

"What I would truly like to see is more police force," he said. "The city is growing a lot more tax dollars are becoming available to the city."

Where patrol is centered near the Northwood Road and Dixie Highway intersection, it's a different story.

"I feel like if I walk out of here when we close at night I'm very safe walking to my car in the back end. There's always security, always WPB police," said Karrie Hodgeman, general manager of Relish N' More.

But the same can't be said for those on the back end near 25th Street or Spruce Street.

"Probably should come down over here rather than just stay over by the restaurants," said Anthony DiNorcia, who runs Nowlin Flower Shop.

DiNorcia, who, like TK, has a animal keeping watch through Rocky the cat, is staying positive through the process of a growing neighborhood. He hopes the private security can increase their numbers as well.

"Nowlin Flower Shop has been here for more than 83 years. It's the longest running operating business in Northwood," he said. So we're still here, we've been through the good, the bad and now the good again."

One business on 25th Street has dealt with several issues, including a homeless man who repeatedly defecated in public. He was later arrested. There was another report of a woman's purse that had been snatched a few weeks ago on Northwood Road. TK suggested if the issue persist, he will protest at City Hall.

"This has to stop," he said.

Using an online database provided by West Palm Beach Police Department , we looked up the data of crime reports within the Northwood business district. We narrowed the reports to Northwood Road, 24th Street and 25th Street. From October 2016 to February 2017, there were six battery/assaults, five burlgaries of a home or business, at least 35 car break ins, three disturbances including a stolen car, as well as various vandalism and drug reports. When comparing that data to May 2016 through Oct. 2016 and Jan. 2016 to May 2016, the current numbers are slightly up.

You can click here to look at the database yourself.

There is a private security company that patrols the area 24/7. Police told me there are two security details out now but businesses say that's down from four. WPBPD said they also have an extra duty officer that works Wednesdays through Sundays, in addition to sector patrol, but they wouldn't confirm how many officers patrol the area.

Although still years away from approval, there are plans for controversial project involving a floating plaza down the street that Northwood businesses have expressed could potentially clean up and revitalize the area.