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Suburban police handle barrage of restaurant security questions
By Trish Lichtenstein | Daily Herald Staff
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Published: 8/4/2009 5:03 PM | Updated: 8/4/2009 10:14 PM

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Originally published Jan. 14, 1993

In the wake of last weekend's mass murders in Palatine, suburban police departments are receiving an extraordinary number of inquiries about security and are responding by offering reassurances to local businesses and making additional checks at fast-food restaurants.

"We've had a few calls from the fast-food (restaurants) and others that stay open late asking for extra patrols," said Donald Cundiff, Hoffman Estates police chief Cundiff said after the murders of the seven employees at the Brown's Chicken & Pasta in Palatine, the department has received about two to three calls a day from concerned workers in the area. The calls, in part, are probably due to concern about how the killers entered Brown's, Cundiff said.

It is believed that the murderer or murderers may have entered a rear door usually kept open for deliveries and employee use at Brown's after the 9 p.m. closing time.

"They've become more aware of better security," Cundiff said "You didn't really think of these things before." Indeed, Northwest suburban business owners are taking additional precautions about locking doors and warning their employees about security measures.

"I'm not scared or worried because it's well-lit around here, but I did change the way I close," said Howie Reisman, owner of Howie's Hot Dogs in Vernon Hills. "I'm locking the door earlier I told the kids that work here that under no circumstance is the back door to be opened, even for deliveries. They can come to the front. We also throw the garbage out earlier."

Earlier this month two Des Flames men were arrested after allegedly robbing an grocery store in nearby Mundelein Two of the store's employees were ordered into a cooler in the back of the store and were told they would be killed if they left. Arrest warrants still are out for three others believed to have been involved in that robbery.

Arlington Heights police say they also have started to receive calls from concerned business owners since the Brown's massacre Last month, four men at gunpoint forced a clerk and customers at a Mexican grocery store in Arlington Heights to lay on the floor during a robbery.

As a result, patrol officers have been making extra efforts to check on businesses during their closing times, said Arlington Heights Police Lt Michael Ossler.

Police there have also advised businesses to take additional precautions when closing, such as leaving outside lights on and notifying neighbors that can see the store to watch during closings.

Young workers also are advised to phone their parents, tell them when they'll be finished working and have them pick them up, Ossler said.

While Rolling Meadows Police Chief Gerald Aponte said the city's police also received additional calls from businesses, he declined to comment on how the callers are reassured by police.

He said security tips are being communicated to businesses that phone the department but not to the general public to prevent tipping off potential robbers.