Business owners in New York City are choosing to arm themselves amid increased crime and police ineffectiveness

Jhonny Núñez, a former New York police officer, has helped hundreds of business owners obtain a permit to carry weapons.

Radhamés Rodríguez own three businesses in Manhattan and is a leader in the New York Winegrowers Association. Every day he faces a common and constant challenge: robberies. Despite video surveillance cameras, his store is robbed at least once a day.

"Look, here they have removed the padlocks... Look how they already removed all this. They come to steal. Because these are the products they like to steal the most," Rodríguez tells Voz Media reporter Mamen Salas, while pointing to a shelf of soap.

When Salas asked him why these products are stolen the most, his answer was clear: "Because they are the easiest to sell and they get money the fastest."

The NYPD describes the situation as a wave of violent robberies that has left business owners in suspense. To protect themselves, many have had to resort to desperate measures.

"Before what we had were bats, or something like that to protect ourselves because many times aggressive people would come in and sometimes you really can't face them because you don't know what they might do to you, but the situation has gotten difficult and we decided to arm ourselves differently," explained Rodríguez.

A year ago, Radhamés Rodríguez obtained a license to carry a weapon. Although he doesn't like it, he feels he has no other option.

"Here we are no longer protecting the business, we are protecting our lives," he said.

During his conversation with reporter Mamen Salas, Jhonny Núñez, a retired New York police officer who helped Radhamés obtain his weapons permit, arrived.

Jhonny said the key is knowing when to use the gun. "If you carry the weapon has to be concealed. Never take out your weapon unless it is an imminent situation where your life is in danger," he said.

Security camera images show robberies like the one Rodríguez described. This happens daily at all types of businesses. This increase in crime has led more than 300 people to turn to Núñez in the last year to obtain weapons.

Núñez explained that his most frequent clients are "people who show houses in real estate because they are going to show houses and they don't know the client and they feel threatened, the drivers too. Another dangerous profession we have worked with is Uber drivers.” 

The situation is aggravated by the fact that business owners claim that the police take too long to arrive when they are called. This sentiment coincides with a worrying reality: there are fewer and fewer officers in the NYPD. In the last four months, 566 professionals have left their positions.

Business owners, who are dealing with crime and a limited police response, are forced to take security into their own hands, in a city where the line between defending themselves and living in fear is increasingly blurred.