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Is Crime Hurting El Paseo's Image?

Angela Monroe

Is Crime Hurting El Paseo's Image?

CREATED Oct. 26, 2011

Leeds & Son Fine Jewelers is robbed again.

El Paseo is quite now, but earlier Wednesday police and crime scene tape were everywhere and that kind of scene is becoming a common sight.
"People with machine guns and bulletproof jackets they walk in and they rob, I think this is the second time this has happened," said Roman Seraj, whose wife owns Riga on El Paseo.
In July, police chased down three men they say robbed Leeds & Son Fine Jewelers.

But there's more...
"I remember hearing something about the Daily Grill and I hear a lot of sirens lately," said Ellen Gold of Indian Wells.
Earlier this year a Canadian tourist was hit with a hammer by a carjacker.
There was also a string of burglaries and break-ins.
"On Rodeo Drive you don't hear a lot of that, so I think absolutely, I think people will think twice when they go to expensive stores, and maybe be a little nervous," said Gold.

Witnesses saw three men all in black, with masks, bulletproof vests carrying large rifles rob the jewelry store.
Officers say the security guard did open fire on the suspects, but no one was hurt.
Hours later, an officer spotted the suspect's vehicle that was stolen from Temecula
The car was partially hidden behind a wall of a deserted-looking house blocks away from the robbery on San Pasqual Avenue.

We asked neighbors if they thought this crime spree could hurt El Paseo's image.
"Yeah I do, because I have a business here, so I like people to be here and feel comfortable to be walking around here," said Tex Colburn, a Palm Desert resident and business owner.
But other people think crime will have to get worse before El Paseo loses is appeal.
"I think El Paseo is probably pretty well known as a pretty safe place to be, I think it would probably take a little more than that to scare people away so to speak," said Jim Borovicka, who works at Pastry Swan Bakery's FIX.
But the rash of crimes does worry Roman Seraj, whose wife is about to open a second store on El Paseo.
"I'm really worried about the image of El Paseo because this will scare people, business owners, shoppers, I mean as a shopper, you don't want to walk in on a robbery," said Seraj.

The robbery cost Leeds & Son Fine Jewelers.  And a sense of security could be the price shoppers pay.
The robbery suspects are still on the run. Police are reviewing security tape from inside the jewelry store.