SAN DIEGO (Border Report) — Small business owners in Tijuana are urging the city to allow them to link their security cameras to the police department’s command center for police to provide them with panic buttons as a way to combat a rash of robberies and extortion attempts.

Gina Villalobos, director of the Small Business Chamber of Commerce in Tijuana, said such crimes continue to rise and small business owners are forced to take matters into their own hands.

“Businesses are also putting up security bars as a preventive measure. It’s just a sign of the alarming security needs we’re all experiencing,” she said. “Organized crime asking small businesses to pay fees, as a way to remain in business, just keeps going and there’s no environment of confidence to file formal complaints with authorities.”

Even though business owners seek better surveillance and quicker response times, Villalobos said there is a “climate of impunity” with criminals and a sense of helplessness among those who feel they can’t seek justice due to fears that “delinquents will follow through on threats to harm them.”

She said she could not provide the amount of money businesses are having to pay for fear of retribution on small businesses.

According to Tijuana police statistics, through the first quarter of this year, four small businesses were robbed on a daily basis.

Villalobos said the number is likely much higher since many other hold-ups go unreported out of fear.