Lights & Sirens

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Business owners aim to protect stores from man accused of lewd conduct downtown

Post by Alexis Krell / The News Tribune on Feb. 6, 2013 at 7:16 pm |
February 6, 2013 7:16 pm

Some women business owners in Tacoma are taking steps to protect their stores from a man they say has masturbated in several establishments downtown in the past week.

The women belong to Shop Girl Tacoma, which has about 50 active members and was founded by Sonja Silver, who owns businesses in the Proctor District.

The group discussed the crimes at its monthly meeting Monday, Silver said.

“His is distracting them, and then he masturbates. They don’t know what’s happened until it’s pointed out to them,” she said. Her businesses have not been affected, she said.

Three downtown businesses have been hit in the past week or so, but Silver declined to say where specifically. If the man surfaces again, the owners have a plan, she said.

“We’re talking so that if this guy comes into any of the businesses, any Shop Girl businesses, we already know who to look for,” Silver said. “They’ll all know to call 911 right away. We want word to get out to potential criminals that we talk. We’re in communication.”

The women also formalized a phone tree. Each plans to call the two owners closest to her when any crime occurs. Those two owners will call two more, and so on.

“Before, we would just call each other. Now we said: ‘Let’s get deliberate about this,’ and we’ve stored each other’s numbers in our phones,” Silver said.

Tacoma police are aware of the alleged crimes, spokeswoman Loretta Cool said. She declined Wednesday to confirm the account given by the business owners because detectives asked her not to disclose details about the ongoing investigation.

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