‘Operation Safe Store’ plan pushed

Due to the rash of recent bodega robberies, Assemblymember Jose Peralta is pushing for $250,000 he allocated a year ago for “Operation Safe Store” to be put to use within the next few months.
Peralta has joined with the international Bodega Association of U.S., Inc. to provide Queens with a program that will allow 190 Queens businesses, especially bodegas, to have security systems installed.
The program called “Operation Safe Store” began in other boroughs in 2004.
Peralta started the funding process for Queens establishments last year after hearing about the “Operation Safe Store” program. He is asking the state to speed up the process because of the recent crimes against bodegas, many of which police believe were committed by the same three robbers.
Peralta is directing the $250,000 to his District 39, which includes Elmhurst, Corona, Jackson Heights, and parts of Woodside. Since his district does not have 190 bodegas, other targeted bodegas in Queens will be eligible to apply. Small businesses and restaurants will also be considered for funding.
Peralta and his team are going to reach out to the 107th and 112th police precincts to see which bodegas have been robbed in the past few years.
“I’m happy to announce this long-awaited initiative in the community,” said Peralta. “The small business owners of this community need all the help they can get and I am glad to be able to provide that for them. The security system will not only provide a better sense of security, but will provide for a better quality of life.”
There are 12,000 bodegas in New York City. In the past four months, Queens has experienced an increase in bodega robberies. The most recent victim was Bolivar Cruz, a bodega owner who was shot in the face trying to protect two of his seven daughters. He died on Wednesday, June 13.
The Bodega Association, which has 7,800 members throughout the city, was started by its current president, Jose Fernandez, in 1996.
“When I first opened my bodega, I never had the luxury of a security device system, now we can provide superior services for the safety and well-being of our hard working bodegueros,” said Fernandez.

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