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The Hanover Air Park’s close proximity to Interstate 95 makes it an ideal location for commerce. But the park’s convenient location also makes it an easy target for criminals.
This realization is behind a recent push by the Hanover Industrial Air Park Business Association to make the Air Park more secure by installing security cameras throughout the industrial complex.
Kevin Harrison, a member of the HIAPBA board and owner of two businesses in the Air Park, is also a victim of crime in this tightknit business community.
“I’ve got two businesses myself and one of them’s a sheet metal company, and I get hit from time to time with people stealing stuff out of my scrap dumpster or taking pallets or whatever’s out back,” he said.
The initiative to install security cameras in the Air Park originated several years ago, Harrison said. But a lack of funds has stalled the safeguard. A new member of the HIAPBA board, Harrison quickly began speaking with local business owners and law enforcement. According to Harrison, Hanover law enforcement estimates that approximately $500,000 of goods were stolen from the Air Park last year alone. And that’s only what’s reported.
“I think what makes it so appealing for the crooks is it’s just easy access to [I-95] or 295,” Harrison said. “They can get something on the highway and they’re gone. We’re convenient, which is a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing when it comes to someone who just wants to come and ‘hit and run.’”
Harrison has been going door-to-door in the Air Park to seek contributions for the system he estimates will cost $40,000 to install. So far, his efforts have helped raise $15,000 toward the goal.
“We’re trying to keep the momentum going and to raise awareness,” Harrison said.
The Association is still evaluating where to best locate the cameras, but the goal is to make “the whole Air Park” secure. Harrison hopes to begin talks with businesses in key, strategic locations to come to terms on installing the devices.
Overall, Harrison believes the added security measures will benefit local businesses and the community at large. Hanover law enforcement will be able to access video footage to help solve crimes that happen in and around the park.
“[The Sheriff’s Office] is in favor of it because they’ll have access to it and they can use it for anything, really,” Harrison said.
Sgt. Chris Whitley, of the Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, said the HCSO has been working with HIAPBA on the camera initiative and agreed with Harrison that his department fully supports their effort, noting that it is one of several crime prevention, deterrent and apprehension approaches they have worked to establish in the area. He also pointed to the department’s “Business Crime Watch” program as an existing deterrent to crime in the Air Park and the county at large.
Responding specifically to the phenomenon of scrap metal thefts, Whitley said the issue is a regional problem.
“Yes, it’s a problem in Hanover County as it is in any other county, especially in the Metro Richmond area,” Whitley said.
He added that theft occurrences “ebb and flow” with the price of precious metals, especially copper. Whitley said scrap metal thefts or thefts of precious metals typically occur in industrial areas like the Air Park. Electrical businesses and automotive shops have also been targeted in the county.
“Criminals go fishing where the fish are biting and certainly in the Air Park, there’s a higher concentration of these type of things,” Whitley said.
Overall, Whitley said the camera initiative would help law enforcement solve not only scrap metal thefts, but any type of crime from business break-ins to larger scale larcenies such as vehicle or equipment thefts.
“With a surveillance system, it’s going to give us the ability to gather intelligence around the time that the offenses occurred and help us in solving those cases,” Whitley said.
As a small business owner, Harrison said the cameras offer the comfort of an added layer of security, which is even more important during uncertain times.
“I personally feel like with the economy and things the way they are, I feel like it’s going to get worse before it gets better, and any added layer of security, I think, would benefit business owners, property owners and the community,” Harrison said.
To support the Air Park security initiative, contact Harrison at (804) 368-8453 or HIAPBA at (804) 675-7502.