By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A dry cleaning chain chief has described increasing crime levels as “very discouraging and disheartening” , given that there is a “direct correlation” with the high cost of doing business in the Bahamas.
Lana Lee-Brogdon, New Oriental Cleaners’ president, said the business - which has 10 locations in New Providence - had suffered two break-ins in recent weeks, the latest occurring last Thursday night at its East Street location.
“It had to be a child or a very tiny man, because there was barely enough space to get in. They did it with tools. They came prepared because there are bars on the window. There was another incident a couple of weeks back where they smashed the whole door,” said Mrs Lee-Brogdon.
Mrs Lee-Brodgon, who recently said the dry cleaning chain may have to look at laying-off some of its 114 employees in the next “three to six months” if its sales continue to decline at June’s pace, said such “sudden expenses” ultimately impact the overall cost of doing business.
“You have a big deductible and you suffer a significant loss every time something like that happens,” she explained. “It’s very discouraging. In these times you are trying to reduce all the expenses you can control, and then you have all of a sudden this expense you didn’t plan for. It’s very discouraging and I don’t see it getting any better. It’s disheartening from a personal and business point of view.”
Mrs Lee-Brogdon said the length of time to obtain an official police report was “past frustrating” .
She added: “In general I believe that the police are doing what they can with the resources they have. Annually, I probably do anywhere from six to eight reports between traffic accidents, break-ins and robberies, but the process is just so ridiculous.
“Sometimes I have to decide whether I want to go that route or whether I do not want to do it. I had two break-ins in the last couple of weeks. They are now requiring - and I never had to do this before - the owner of the business to physically go down to the station and make a report.
“The process isn’t timely. They’re still writing these things by hand, and for traffic accidents it’s much worse. It should be more timely, especially when there is insurance involved. Every time I file a report it’s always pending the police report. You need the police report before you get any compensation from the insurance companies.”
Edison Sumner, the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employer’s Confederation (BCCEC) chief executive, said that while it had not received many calls from its membership concerning incidents of crime, the issue remained a major concern.
“Crime as a whole is a major concern for us. We are still concerned about the level of crime in the community and against business people, in particular, because there is a direct correlation to the cost of doing business in this country. When their livelihood is threatened, jobs are threatened,” said Mr Sumner.
He added that the Chamber’s crime prevention committee, now headed by former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Marvin Dames, was formulating what he described as a “very robust” crime prevention campaign in an effort to help reduce the incidents of crime within the business community.