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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Another Lynchburg Convenience Store Robbery and a Plan for Action

It happened again, Thursday night at the Expresslane on Timberlake: A small Exxon station, in a shopping center where all the other stores were already closed was robbed by a 6 foot one inch white robber, threatening the clerk with a knife.

At ten PM all the surrounding stores are closed, customers come in at a sporadic frequency leaving the clerk alone, for the best part of the later night. This clerk however had a visitor who robbed the clerk at knife point. An intensive police search found no one.

We have reported earlier that may be convenience store clerks could rest a little easier, the Lynchburg Police had arrested a suspect in robberies that were occurring in Lakeside Drive area. Many thought, and perhaps including the police they got their man. It was the same method of operation, but there is apparently more than one thief.

Convenience store clerks have become a more frequent target for robberies, lately a week does not go by that another report of a robbery does not hit the presses.

What can be done? (And a suggestion for those who plan to run for Lynchburg City Council in May)

In a previous story we reported steps that convenience stores could take to make their stores unfriendly to thieves. In this story we will show you how effective those measures can have with city ordinances behind them.

In Gainsville Florida, convenience store robberies were increasing at an alarming rate. Prompted to action Gainsville enacted legislation the result noted in a Department of Labor paper:

The rationale of the NACS program is to make the target less attractive by reducing the cash,maximizing the take/risk ratio, and training employees.

The program includes the following:
clearing windows for increased visibility;
improving lighting;
maintaining low cash in register;
installing time-controlled drop safes;
posting signs about low cash;
altering escape routes; and training employees in not resisting.
(Erickson, 1995)

Employing two clerks is a form of "target hardening" because it may make a robbery more difficult to complete and, therefore, more unsuitable.

Having two clerks may also increase the likelihood that they will be effective witnesses in a police investigation. Since the enactment of the Gainesville ordinance requiring two clerks, robbery was reduced by 92 percent between the ours of 8:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. (Florida Office of Attorney General, 1991)

It is of importance to note that the National Association of Convenience Stores. does not agree that the two clerk formula would provide a deterrent to thieves. They have done studies on their own to counter this conclusion. It is also important to note that their resistance to this idea may also be influenced by the added cost of two night time clerks. They are quick to point out, the cost Convenience store owners would be facing, an additional 18,000 per year.

Gainsville has conformed now to Flordia state law that allows one clerk operation at night (lobbied by the Convenience Store Association). But Florida Convenience store law remains the most strict in the country and the two clerk law has not gone away entirely. If a serious crime is committed at a convience store, two clerks or other measure are required. (see the law)

When the candidates throw their hat in the ring for city council elections, we will be paying attention to the candidates who support this and other local anti crime legislation. Measures need to be taken to insure the safety of those who work in our community.


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