More than 100 Dublin residents and business owners filled the Abbey Theater last week to air their concerns and get some safety tips.

More than 100 Dublin residents and business owners filled the Abbey Theater last week to air their concerns and get some safety tips.

The safety forum held Feb. 16 was scheduled to address concerns that came about after a spike in crime in Dublin. Four armed robberies have occurred in the past month, one resulting in the death of 46-year-old Mohamed S. Hassan, the night clerk of the West Bridge Street Sunoco.

Dublin Police Chief Heinz von Eckartsberg told ThisWeek the forum had been scheduled before the fatal Feb. 13 robbery that took Hassan's life.

"We had some calls from some residents and businesses expressing concerns about what they should do for the safety of employees and personal safety after the Max & Erma's and UDF robberies," he said. "We wanted to do a meeting for those neighbors and businesses."

The string of armed robberies in Dublin began Jan. 18, when the McDonald's at 337 W. Bridge St. was robbed at gunpoint. Dublin police arrested a suspect within five hours of the crime and have charged Victor Lamont Drafton with aggravated robbery.

On Feb. 2, the Max & Erma's at 411 Metro Place North was robbed by two individuals at about 12:23 a.m. as employees were performing closing duties.

The next armed robbery came at about 4:55 p.m. Feb. 5 at United Dairy Farmers, 7076 Muirfield Drive by one person.

No injuries were reported in the crimes until the Sunoco was robbed at about 11:15 p.m. Feb. 13. One of the two suspects robbing the store shot and killed Hassan, who was discovered Feb. 14 when the morning clerk came to open the business.

"Four robberies in a month is a lot anywhere, especially in Dublin," von Eckartsberg said. "We don't have very much violent crime in Dublin. All I can say is there has been a rash of robberies not just in Dublin, but Columbus, Hilliard and Grove City, and because of that we are working very closely with other agencies to get to the bottom of this."

Dublin police are looking at a connection between the robberies at Max & Erma's and Sunoco, as both had two white, male suspects. The suspects are in their late teens or early 20s and both wore black clothing and ski masks. One suspect is approximately 5 feet, 8 inches tall, and the other is about 6 feet tall.

More Dublin police are on patrol, von Eckartsberg said.

"We've increased staffing in the evening hours greatly," he said.

While businesses and residents asked questions about keeping themselves safe during the Feb. 16 forum, von Eckartsberg urged common sense.

For businesses, opening and closing hours are a vulnerable time because of a large amount of money on hand and smaller staffing.

"You have to harden your target," von Eckartsberg said. "These guys want a soft target."

Businesses should have an alarm and video surveillance, and advertise that with signs, he said.

"Don't hide cameras," he said. "They should be a deterrent."

Businesses were also encouraged to be well lit, inside and out, and have more than one employee working at all times.

The police department is working to get all closing times of businesses in Dublin, von Eckartsberg said, and will work to have a presence around town.

Residents should also use common sense to keep themselves safe, and lock doors and windows and close garage doors at night, von Eckartsberg said.

"Over half of burglaries in Dublin happen through open garages," he said.

Residents should also keep their lights on and post a sign if they have an alarm system.

When traveling after dark, people should stay in groups and in well-lit areas, von Eckartsberg said.

Both residents and businesses should not hesitate to call police if they see any suspicious vehicles or people, he added.

"This is a safe community, but one of our goals is to respond when something happens," von Eckartsberg said. "Be smart about your choices."

For more safety tips, look online at dublinohiousa.gov/police.

Anyone with tips related to any of the robberies should contact the Dublin police at (614) 410-4847.