BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Business owners in Mid City have been on edge for weeks after a rash of recent burglaries and other crimes have spiked in that part of Baton Rouge.
Many store owners got the chance to talk directly to Baton Rouge Police about their concerns Thursday night at a public meeting focused on crime at Our Lady of Mercy Catholic Church.
The owner of Anthony's Italian Deli captured the tense moments on surveillance video when a man with a gun towered over him, pointing the weapon directly at his head during an armed robbery attempt. The terrifying scene was just one of a handful of attempted robberies that played out within days of each other along Government St. at the tail end of December.
The robbery attempts have had residents on edge and have sent rumors swirling that the Mid City area is in decline.
"You don't want anything negative to start to happen and then rumors get out there and make people think that something else may be going on," said event organizer, Samuel Sanders.
The forum gave members of the community and business owners the chance to get their questions answered and find out how best to protect themselves and their businesses.
"Just simple things as changing out the old lights and getting the new LED lights. It makes it brighter and doesn't cast any shadows. You know, alarm systems and cameras," said business owner, Scott Overby.
Officers of the Baton Rouge Police Department were also at the meeting to clear up any rumors, saying that while there were a few crimes in the area at the tail end of 2016, it's common for crimes to increase around the holidays and d rop off at the first of the year.
"Usually after you know around January 1st, it's like the faucet turns off. The crimes normally go down," said Det. Danny Forbes with BRPD.
Business owners say they walked away from the meeting more confident in the police department and more at ease about their part of town.
"People will want to jump to conclusions and they want to jump to let's label it a crime district and Mid City is far from that," Overby added.
Baton Rouge Police do not want to give people a false sense of security. They say it is always important to check your surroundings and not become a crime of opportunity.