PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — An armed robbery early Sunday morning at Pamela’s, a breakfast and lunch destination in the Strip District, has local neighborhood leaders worried.
“We are seeing a little bit more incidents of car break-ins; but more alarmingly, things like this, which are armed robbery, which… that’s some major stuff,” says Strip District resident Mike Lee.
Lee, who runs Strip District Neighbors that represents residents, merchants and property owners in the Strip, sees an uptick in crime but insists, “We have the lowest crimes stats in the city.”
“We’ve never thought of the Strip as an unsafe neighborhood,” said Gail Klingensmith, co-owner of Pamela’s. “It’s always been like family.”
But shortly before 5 a.m., two males wearing hoods, one armed, tied up an employee as he was opening the restaurant, and stole an undisclosed amount of cash.
“We won’t give up on this,” says Klingensmith. “Police have agreed to have a presence here early in the mornings, so if anybody has any idea of coming back quickly, that won’t work.”
The restaurant was open for business as usual.
Pamela’s had some motion lighting installers take a look on Monday morning, and they’re certainly looking to upgrade their security.
It turns out that that’s something a lot of shop owners in the Strip are considering as well.
Chris Mikrut, who owns DeLuca’s Diner, another popular Strip restaurant, says she has cameras inside but is now likely to add some outside.
“I’m looking and thinking of adding that on. I always did want to do that, but just never got around to it. It’s good to have,” Mikrut told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Monday.
Christian Simmons owns Pennsylvania Libations, which sells Pennsylvania liquor right around the corner from Pamela’s.
“I felt really, really sick, kind of to the stomach, in the sense that something like that could happen so close to home,” said Simmons. “I thought about my employees and the fact that they come in and open up early in the morning, but I guess you could say, another step is that we don’t do a lot of cash business at our place. Ninety percent of transactions are with credit cards, while Pamela’s is solid cash.”
Simmons, who just opened a year ago, says he also has state-of-the art security at his liquor store with two-way sound.
“If someone happens to break in, I can literally get on my phone and say, ‘Hey, I can see you, and you’re already caught, so you might as well just lay down on the ground,’” says Simmons.
Lee says his association is working with local police on strategies to keep the strip safe.
“We are expanding our preventative measures in our ability to catch perpetrators,” he said.
Some of those strategies could include a stronger police presence, with police walking the streets.
Another approach is to link all the privately-owned cameras with city cameras to create something called a “virtual block watch,” allowing police near instant access to any crime about to happen.
With the Strip so popular with locals and visitors alike, everyone says what happened at Pamela’s this weekend cannot be allowed to be repeated.