at convenience

Convenience store crimes

For a variety of reasons, convenience stores are often very popular targets for a variety of crimes, most notably shoplifting and robbery. In some cities, convenience store crime has become such a problem that special task forces have been created or some stores have been completely shut down. ]].

The reasons for the higher rate of crime at convenience stores may be attributable to various factors, including: > the small number of staff employees on hand makes it difficult to stop or deter criminals
> the extended hours many convenience stores offer create more opportunities when few customers and/or witnesses will be present
> the smaller size of the stores make it easy for criminals to quickly navigate the floor plan and enter and exit close to the cash registers

According to the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS), 80% of all convenience stores are crime-free in any given year. The NACS also claims that conveience store robbery has decreased 16% in the last 12 years. The reduction in crime may be attributable to various factors which have been implemented in recent years. Included in that list are better training for employees and increased security measures, such as time-lock safes and video cameras. 4

To gain a better understanding of ways to control and deter convenience store robberies, the Southland Corporation (former name of 7-Eleven Corporation) conducted an in-depth study into convenient store robberies and the individuals most likely to commit the crimes. They discovered that the most important things would-be robbers considered when deciding whether or not to commit a crime were the ease of escape from the store/sourrounding area and how much money they thought the store would have on hand. They also discovered that while the acquisition of money was the most important motivation for robberies, a sense of power or thrill from committing the crime was often mentioned as well. 5

While robberies may be the crime most often associated with convenience stores, shoplifting is also extremely common in such establishments. Statistics suggest that 54% of all shoplifters regularly steal from conveience stores. 6 An increasingly common crime is shoplifting by juveniles. Almost 90% of juveniles say they know someone who has shoplifted, and more than half of adult shoplifters claim they began doing so as teenagers. 6,7 As many convenience stores attract groups of minors, especially after school or on the weekends, they face the challenge of offering their services in a professional manner while closely monitoring the activities of the patrons. Multiple customers at the same time can create opportunities for theft, as one or more members of a group can distract the employees or block their view of certain areas of the store.


Law enforcement officials and often store employees themselves strongly discourage customers not involved in a crime being committed from involving themselves in the situation. The Southland study concluded that in cases where someone was seriously injured or killed during a convenient store crime, the most likely cause of such an outcome was employees or other customers not following the demands set forth by the criminal. 5 However, in recent months there have been numerous documented cases of customers stepping in to try and prevent crimes that they witnessed at conveniece stores. Examples include:

June 2008
> In Harris County, Texas, 47-year-old Jason Hemmingworth struck a man in the back of the head with a bottle when the man, standing in front of him in line, demanded the clerk empty the register drawer. Witnesses claim the suspect became enraged by the action and seriously injured both Hemmingworth and the store clerk in an ensuing fight.
> Michael Spencer, an off-duty paramedic, tripped a suspect as he tried to flee from a convenience story in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The suspect fell violently to the ground, breaking his arm and two ribs. Spencer was commended for his involvement, but encouraged not to follow the course of action in the future.

July 2008
> Cole Brieski, an honors student at Oregon State University, intervened in a convenience store robbery in South Suburban Sacramento, where he was visiting family. Brieski saw a man in a mask run into the store and grab several cartons of cigarettes from behind the counter. As the man turned to leave, Brieski punched the man in the right shoulder, causing him to drop the items. The suspect stooped to pick the items back up and Brieski lost his footing and stumbled backwards. As the suspect again tried to leave the store, Brieski lunged at him from behind, grabbing his coat and causing him to slip on a floor mat inside the door. Both men wrestled on the floor for several minutes as four different witnesses called 911. The suspect eventually escaped Brieski’s grasp and fled the scene, but was apprehended six blocks from the store within minutes.
> In western Maryland a 57-year-old unnamed trucker stopped in a convenience store to purchase supplies for an upcoming road trip when he encountered an armed suspect trying to rob the store. The man struck the suspect with an umbrella he retrieved from a nearby display, causing him to drop the gun he was holding. A second customer picked up the weapon and pointed it at the suspect who fled. It was later determined the gun was not loaded and had been stolen.
> In North Suburban Chicago, John Kolvak thwarted a would-be robbery when he tackled a man trying to steal money as he attempted to exit a convenience store. The man made several demands of the store clerk and punched the register several times when the employee refused to relinquish the contents of the drawer. The suspect swung his right fist at the clerk, but missed, and ran toward the door. Kolvak, who had entered the store right as the crime began, dove into the suspect, wrapping his arms around his waist, bringing him to the ground. As the man wildly kicked in an attempt to break free, Kolvak and another unnamed patron held the man to the ground until police arrived.
> Janice Robinson, of Yonkers, New York intervened when a man pushed her aside as she approached the counter at a convenience store near her home. The man grabbed the shirt of the employee at the register and demanded he empty the register drawer. Robinson poured the cup of hot coffee she was holding over the suspect’s head, causing him to let go and try to flee the store. Two other customers, both unidentified men, stopped him at the door and held him until police arrived minutes later. The man was taken to St. John’s Riverside Hospital where he was treated for second-degree burns.


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