A local business owner is fighting back against crime in Albuquerque with barbed wire around his restaurant, but the city says he’s breaking the rules.
Barbed wire stretched along the fence surrounding Vick’s Vittles Country Kitchen is the only thing owner Robert Vick says will keep criminals out.
“So much crime: people were jumping the fence and breaking into cars,” Vick said.
Back in 2015, KRQE News 13 reported when a man used a crowbar to break a glass door to crawl inside the restaurant before emptying the register.
Then last summer, Vick’s surveillance cameras caught a crook breaking into customers’ cars.
He said the barbed wire was already there when he moved into the location four years ago, and he kept it up to prevent these incidents from happening again.
In the past two months, however, the city has cited him twice because it’s illegal to have barbed wire in a residential area and where it’s visible in a public space.
Vick said the city should reconsider this ordinance, turning the focus on business safety rather than appearance.
“This is wrong,” Vick said. “All the people in the neighborhood take it all down. All of us have had barbed wire up because that’s how bad the crime is.”
He faces a fine and jail time if he doesn’t take it down.
“If they continue to stay in violation and they don’t remedy the situation, they will be taken to court,” said Carmelina Hart with the planning department. “We do have rules and ordinances and we need to follow those. We didn’t create the rules but we are here to enforce those rules.”
“The ordinance was put in place years ago because [barbed wire] sends a bad message. It says that this neighborhood is not welcoming,” City Councilor Pat Davis added.
Davis reached out to the planning department to meet next week to find another solution to keep small businesses safe if the barbed wire has to come down.
“[We’ll] look at the need for those citations and work with APD to see if we can develop some sort of security plans for those businesses in the meantime,” Davis said.
Davis said Vick’s is one of 12 businesses in his district that have been cited for having barbed wire.
He said it’s too soon to know what councilors will decide to do about the ordinance.