LocalSYR

Crime spike stirs debate between shop owner and police

With a growing list of crimes being reported around Acropolis Pizza House on Marshall Street, including a stabbing, fights and people being maced, should businesses be held responsible? Police seem to think so. But the shop's owner says he’s a victim too.

Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- SU Junior Guillermo Fortuno is more nervous off-campus after his sister was robbed recently.

"I have my phone close to me if I have to make a call or just looking around if someone is getting close to me who I don't know, so I can get away fast," said Fortuno.

Fortuno says the university has e-mailed several safety alerts, urging students in one note to avoid a specific business on the SU hill -- Acropolis Pizza House -- where the owner is feeling pressure from police after crime picked up around the shop on Marshall Street.

"We can't keep putting all these police services up there, when officers are needed elsewhere too.  So, we're trying to get a handle on the problem," explained Syracuse Sgt. Tom Connellan. " Working with the owner is one of the things we need to do. But, when an owner buries his head in the sand and says 'it is not my problem', well, it is."

Peter Mavrikidis, the owner of Acropolis Pizza House says police came to his shop, asking him to close earlier to break up the pattern of people who loiter nearby, leading to crime. Mavrikidis feels singled out, since several businesses operate on Marshall Street.

"They tell me you are responsible for the street. I am not a police man. I have no ability to be out to fight with people. They told me they carry guns," said Mavrikidis. "Do you think I like what is happening? I'm not stupid to want something like this. I mean, they ruin my business, these guys."

According to police, the bulk of crime near the shop happens between 1:00-4:00 a.m. on weekends. Mavrikidis said he makes a lot of his profit overnight and can't afford to shut down business earlier. Police also suggested hiring a guard or installing security cameras.

"If they want to put in a camera...anytime. Okay. But...I can't pay. I have to buy internet for them. It is a lot of cost for me. Things are not like they used to be. Business is not what it used to be." Mavrikidis said. "I have 15 employees. I have to support my family,"

Mavrikidis said he has contacted a security company to inquire about hiring a guard for weekend evenings. He hopes to have someone stationed at the shop soon and says he'll eat the cost without raising prices. The alternative could be more costly.

"We have multiple incidents documented that have happened inside his place including a stabbing, including an assault, people being maced, shots fired that happened out front, a shooting that was the result of a fight that started inside of his place," said Sgt. Connellan. "He obviously will qualify now for a nuisance abatement, due to the fact that he has had so many qualifying incidents. That is something that will be up to the corporation counsel and the chief to make a decision whether they are going to move forward on that."

Police insist business owners hold some responsibility to make sure unsuspecting passersby, particular students, don't get caught in the middle of crime inside or outside their shops.

"The problem with that particular location is the amount of foot traffic that is in that area, possible innocent victims who are up there at that hour," Connellan continued.  "We're trying to be proactive and prevent that from happening.  We don't ant a tragedy on our hands."

Fortuno says he understands both perspectives and hopes the to see more effort by business owners and more patrols by police.

"Especially in the last month there has been a lot of stuff happening and there has to be something done for this to stop," said Fortuno.

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