After 11 straight years of crime reduction in Dallas, violent crime is up nearly 10 percent so far in 2015 and fast food restaurants are a sudden robbery target.
Seven Near North Dallas restaurants were robbed over a one-month period from March to April.
“We’ve seen an increase in robberies at fast food restaurants through the drive-through window,” said Dallas Assistant Police Chief Charles Cato.
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A robber armed with a gun entered the Burger King at 2441 Walnut Hill Lane near Stemmons Freeway through the drive-through window and left with the cash register just after 3 a.m. on March 23, according to a police record. A suspect who threatened to assault a clerk robbed the same restaurant three mornings later at 2:25 a.m.
Through the drive-through window, a robber armed with a knife entered the Burger King at 2828 West Northwest Highway at 4:40 a.m. on March 14, according to records.
Other robbery targets included a Jack In The Box at 10107 Marsh Lane on March 23, and a Jack in the Box at 4703 Greenville Avenue at 9:50 p.m. on March 16.
The most recent was a Whataburger at Skillman and Northwest Highway in Dallas at 7 a.m. Friday morning. The same restaurant was also robbed March 11 around 5 a.m., according to police reports.
“We’re working with some of our neighborhood police officers, working with our business community, to look at ways to harden the target there at the drive through,” Cato said.
Options include refusing service to walk up customers, and turn-style type windows that block face-to-face contact between clerks and customers.
The fast food crimes are part of a 24.56 percent hike in Dallas business robbery through April 7 compared with last year.
At a Dallas City Council Public Safety Committee briefing Monday, Cato said overall crime is still down 1.72 percent, but violent crime is up 9.69 percent through April 7 compared with last year.
In last month’s report, violent crime was up 7.54 percent through March 18 compared with the same period last year.
Cato said continued crime rate reduction is challenging because 11 years of crime rate reduction made last year’s figures extremely low.
“We know it will be difficult. It’s never easy, but we believe it is well worth the fight,” he said. “So we’re going to continue to push our focus on things that contribute to violent crime — gangs, guns, drugs, those kinds of things — and hopefully keep those numbers down.”
Burger King offered this response to the findings:
"At Burger King restaurants, our primary concern is always the safety and well-being of our guests and crew members. However, we do not reveal specific security measures as we believe that confidentiality in this area best ensures safety. With regard to the recent incidents, the franchisee that owns and operates this restaurant is cooperating with the Dallas Police Department."
The other restaurant companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday afternoon.