By SUE SUCHYTA
Sunday Times Newspapers
MELVINDALE – Persistent shoplifting occurring at the Clark gas station convenience store, 19645 Allen Road, has created a frustrating situation for owner Hussein Bazzi.
Officials at the Academy for Business and Technology, 19625 Wood, recently became more aware of the problem caused by some of its students, and have begun to take steps to alleviate it.
According to police reports, the owner has experienced the most shoplifting problems in the morning before school from 7:40 a.m. to 8 a.m. The store is two blocks east of the charter middle and high school housed in the former St. Mary Magdalen School building.
The owner has told police he has tried several measures to discourage shoplifting. Students are allowed in the convenience store only two at a time, and an employee has been stationed in the customer lobby during periods of peak traffic.
Bazzi also talked with local police and the school principal. On Oct. 7 he called police after a student shoplifted snacks for the second time that day during a return visit.
The responding officer stopped and questioned the student. Because of the evidence on the student’s person and on surveillance video, the minor was taken to the police station and processed.
The student was released later to his mother. Bazzi declined to press charges, provided the offender agreed to pay for the merchandise taken and stay out of his store in the future.
Melissa Cook, spokeswoman for the Leona Group LLC, which oversees charter schools like ABT, said she has made school leader John Kirk aware of the situation. She also said she is working closely with Melvindale police to address the issue.
Cook said student behavior, discipline and character standards are highly regarded and enforced at the academy. In addition, she said, the school will have support personnel monitor the neighborhood before and after school hours, and when possible monitor the situation at the gas station.
Cook also said that increased availability of school buses has decreased the number of students who pass the station on their way to a public bus stop.
Positive behavior support systems were successfully implemented at the middle school level last year, she said, and have been introduced at the high school class level as well this year.
Students are not supposed to leave campus during school hours from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. However, some must cross the street to get to the gym building, which creates a situation that is more difficult to monitor.
Cook reiterated the importance of the Clark station to the school community, and hopes that students will be able to continue to shop there. She also plans to review the relevant police reports with school personnel.