There may be one located down the street from your home or a few blocks away. Perhaps you go there sometimes to buy a gallon of milk when you need it for your morning coffee? Or you stop in to buy a lotto ticket when the jackpot is especially big? You’re not alone.
It’s estimated that close to 100 million Americans visit a convenience store on any given day. Each store might serve hundreds or even thousands of customers daily. With over 152,720 convenience stores operating in the United States and growing, they continue to be one of the easiest targets for robberies.
According to the FBI’s annual report on national crime statistics, convenience store robberies accounted for close to seven percent of violent crime known to police in 2017. Though experts have a range of explanations as to why this is happening, they can all agree on certain truths and ways to prevent it from happening.
Reasons for Store Robberies
1. Operating Hours
A convenience store’s hours of operation are by far the most significant reason it is such an easy target for robberies. Most of these stores are open late into the night or 24 hours a day. The late evening and early morning hours offer more opportunities when fewer customers and witnesses are present to see the crimes to take place. Simply put, it’s easier to get away with a robbery overnight than it is in broad daylight.
One of the ways to reduce the danger of being open so late is to teach your staff safety measures should they find themselves held-up at gunpoint. Additionally, many states require convenience stores to have a silent alarm and bulletproof glass if they remain open late or overnight for the protection of their staff.
2. Staff Numbers
Have you ever noticed more than two staff members working at a convenience store at the same time? If you answered “yes,” then you’re in the minority. Most convenience stores usually have a maximum of two staff members on duty at a time, and this is often only during peak hours. As such, the small number of employees per store makes it extremely difficult to deter, let alone stop criminals.
An easy safety solution is to install a mobile security patrol unit that regularly checks in on your convenience store. If you own more than one store, this unit could work throughout the night, surveilling all of your stores continuously. This might be a logical solution instead of having to hire another staff member for each of your stores.
3. Store Size & Layout
The smaller size of convenience stores makes it considerably easier for criminals to navigate its floor plan. They can enter and exit close to the cash register and can see the full layout of the store very quickly after entering. There is typically a single set of doors that allow access to the store, so a criminal does not risk being surprised by a police officer arriving from another entrance.
Additionally, you’ll often see convenience stores with merchandise and floor displays that are stacked against or blocking the windows to the outside. Not to mention the promotional posters that are affixed to them as well.
These items are vital to the operation of a successful business. Still, they block a clear line of sight into and out of the store, which will make a would-be criminal less likely to follow through with a robbery. As a convenience store owner, make sure people can see into your store and that it is well lit on the inside. Consider installing security cameras both in and outside of your store.
If a criminal is looking for an amount of quick cash, then robbing a convenience store is one of the best ways to do it. These types of stores stock items such as cigarettes, candy, beer, frozen foods, and sodas. Items of convenience that are usually paid for using cash as opposed to an electronic transaction, thereby leading to a relatively large amount of money in the register.
Convenience store owners can limit the amount of money kept in their cash register. By purchasing a cash-control unit, it has not only a drop safe but also a money dispenser. Employees can only gain access to a limited amount of cash in the money dispenser. They won’t be able to touch the cash in the safe. If this is stipulated clearly at the door of the store, it often acts as a visible crime deterrent for robbers.
Crimes of Convenience
Convenience stores earned that title because they are just that: handy. Whether you’re in search of a cold beer, a bag of chips or a lotto ticket, your local convenience store is the place you’ll find these items. Unfortunately, it’s also the place criminals have traditionally found convenient to rob. But there are measures convenience stores owners can take to protect their business, their staff, and ensure they continue to thrive and remain….well, convenient!