Thieves target Hispanics in west side robberies

PRICE HILL, OH (FOX19) - Officers with Cincinnati Police's District Three announced plans Thursday to reduce the number of robberies in East Price Hill and West Price Hill.

Officers visited business and residences in the area to share crime prevention information and safety tips, and distributed leaflets in both English and Spanish.

Several schools are assisting in the effort by including the leaflets in their weekly packets to send home to parents.

The project was selected as a Smart Policing Initiative by the Justice Department's Bureau of Justice Assistance. Analysis of ten years of crime data for robberies in the area showed that the number has more than doubled since 2000.

Officers say that when offenders are interviewed, the often say they target Hispanic victims because they believe them to be less likely to report the crimes.

The Price Hill area is not the only community, however, that is seeing increased crimes targeting Hispanics.

One grocery store worker in Carthage says the situation has gotten bad there as well. She has been a victim herself, saying people are walking around with guns and knives and then beating up and stealing from their victims. She says the crimes are happing in stores and out on the streets.

"The issue of Hispanics being targeted for violent crime, especially robberies, is an ongoing issue that I've seen for a good ten years in this area," shared immigration attorney Marilyn Zayas-Davis.

Zayas-Davis says Hispanics are often looked at as easy targets.

"Part of it is the perception that Hispanics are not going to have immigration status," she explained. "Then the next step after that [is] that they will not go to the police and report the crime so many people perceive it to be the perfect crime."

She says there is no reason, however, for people to remain silent.

"They should absolutely not be afraid to go to the police if this happens to them," she urged. "This is the message that District 3 is giving to the community because they're saying fighting crime and preventing crime is paramount to anything else."

She says some laws even protect victims of crime in immigration proceedings. Zayas-Davis says the underlying societal perceptions associated with the Hispanic community may also be playing a part.

"You're looking at a population that's being marginalized and it's getting to the point that people are forgetting that everyone is human whether you're Hispanic or not," she said.

"I think that it's a pretty under-the-table kind of issue and I think that even in Carthage it's not very well known," explained Jenna Hippensteel, a volunteer translator.

Hippensteel works as an intermediate between the Hispanic population and police.

"It's been going on for some time so I think that it's important for people to know it's going on," Hippensteel said.

She says Hispanic clients often have to battle not only fear and misperceptions about police but also a language barrier that keeps them from reaching out.

Some of the tips offered in the leaflet provided by District 3 police include:

  • Be especially cautious around bus stops
  • Be aware of those around you and if someone looks suspicious, avoid him or her
  • Use ATMs in well-lighted areas and scan the area before using the ATM.
  • Call 911 if you are a victim
  • When you get in your car, close and lock the doors immediately and keep the doors locked and windows rolled up

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