SANTA CRUZ, Calif. - A Santa Cruz community is speaking out after a 68-year-old woman was attacked and robbed at a supermarket over the weekend.
The incident happened at the Safeway on Morrissey Boulevard. Officers said one of the three males, possibly in their late teens to early twenties, attacked the victim as she was coming out of the store. Santa Cruz Police Deputy Chief Steve Clark said he pushed her to the ground, grabbed her purse, and then got into a waiting car with the other two males. It was all caught on surveillance video.
"I say this lightly, but it's known either as the 'ghetto Safeway' or the 'Soviet Safeway' to locals in town because it has not been updated. It is not patrolled well," said Debra Finfer, who shops at the Safeway because it is only three blocks away from her home.
She said over the years, safety has become a serious concern at the grocery store.
"I'd like to see some security guards on the outside of the store," she said. "I know there are some inside, but I have yet to see any frequent the outside perimeter or the parking lot."
And Finfer isn't alone. Dozens of people spoke left comments on the Take Back Santa Cruz Facebook page expressing their concerns with safety.
"Right now one of the residual problems is people being allowed to hang out in their (Safeway's) lot," Clark said.
"It is a little funky because of this area and you do have some homeless people hanging out and you do see people eating food and putting it back on the shelves," said Nick Hawley, Safeway shopper.
Clark showed Central Coast News the surveillance photos of the three males who got away.
"It's a terrible crime that they would attack this poor woman, these three males attacked one 68-year-old woman. It's a pretty cowardly attack," he said.
Safeway issued the following statement to Central Coast News: "The safety of our customers is important to us. This incident is under investigation and we take these matters seriously. We have guard coverage at this location in the evening hours seven days a week and we will continue to monitor activities closely."
Police said issues at the Safeway are nothing new. Just last year, they received 220 calls for service for everything from 911 calls to officers doing extra checks.
Some people in the community think Safeway should be doing more to secure the area.
"I do, considering they've had frequent complaints. They've had frequent incidents and it's a common problem throughout the neighborhood and beyond, throughout the city," Finfer said.