Seven police calls were made to Starbucks at Country Club Plaza in the three months prior to the store’s abrupt closing on Monday.
The motives for the calls ranged from armed robbery to a recovered stolen vehicle and an administrative call.
But noone of the calls resulted in officers creating a police report, according to the Kansas City Police Department.
The question of how much crime goes on at the Starbucks location at 302 Nichols Road was raised by the coffee chain on Monday when they gave security as the reason for the sudden closure, store officials said.
Workers who picketed Tuesday said they doubted the company’s motives and suggested the site’s closure was a case of union repression. Workers had recently held a union vote, before receiving a few minutes’ notice that the store would permanently close on Monday afternoon.
Several said they didn’t think the location was any more unsafe than other cafes or retail stores.
Kansas City Police said they received no reports of any criminal offenses at Starbucks between May 22 and August 22, according to department records.
Of the seven times the police were called without filing a police report, the reasons given included a report of assault with a weapon, an informational call, a call about community activities and a call for an ambulance, according to police records.
Captain Leslie Foreman, a spokeswoman for the department, said the calls may not have resulted in a police report if the situation was de-escalated or the person left before police arrived, among other reasons.
In the same period last year, the department received twice as many calls, Foreman said.
Other incidents were reported within a block of the store, according to an online map on the Kansas City Police website.
On June 18, for example, Kansas City police responded to a reported robbery at the intersection of Nichols Road and Central Street. From June 1st to August 22nd, there were nine incidents of shoplifting reported on the 200th block of Nichols Road, according to the map.
Earlier this month, there was an exchange of fire in the garage next to the Starbucks, according to police. No injuries were reported.
Last month, Starbucks closed 16 other locations in Los Angeles, Portland, Seattle, Philadelphia and Washington, DC, also citing safety concerns.
Workers made similar claims that the closures were meant to break union efforts. At least two of the stores in Seattle were newly unionized at the time of closing in July.
Starbucks worker, corporate perspectives
Workers at the Plaza store said security concerns have existed for years without any response from the company.
“We’ve been asking about meetings, about safety and security,” said Josh Crowell, who was on the organizing committee to form the union. “We’re going to find solutions like the workers, like the people in the store who know best what needs to be safe. Instead of doing that, Starbucks decided to exclude us completely.”
Crowell and other employees who protested outside Starbucks on Tuesday said they believed the company closed the store to discourage other locations from unionizing. He said he has worked for Starbucks for four years, including about a year at the Plaza, and he doesn’t believe workers will be safer at other stores.
“I think they’re just using it as cover,” he said, adding that the company is trying to have good public relations by saying it’s keeping workers safe. “But at the end of the day, we workers are now, you know, here protesting because we lost our jobs.”
Addy Wright, the store’s supervisor, said the employees were sexually harassed and she was stalked. Some employees said the problems they face are the same ones that retail workers deal with, no matter where they work.
Employees have been told they will be paid by Thursday, and managers will be in touch about possible reassignments and future options, leaving some workers worried about the future.
“I’m still suing,” said Kaity Barnes, a barista at the Plaza for nearly a year. “I can’t not have a job. I have bills to pay.”
A spokesperson for Starbucks said in an emailed statement Tuesday that the chain regularly opens and closes stores as a standard part of its business operations.
“We apply the same focus on safety to unionized and non-union stores and are closing non-union stores where we are equally challenged to provide a safe environment for our customers and partners to experience,” the spokesperson said.
A spokesperson for Starbucks, who declined to be named, added:
“The store has experienced some security issues due to crime in the area. I do not have the details at this time, but clearly there are issues that have been brought to the attention of our leadership.”