Protecting store clerks; Convenience store robberies are so common it's only a matter


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WAGCEVP
January 5, 2004, 08:37 PM
PUBLICATION: The Daily News (Halifax)
DATE: 2004.01.04
SECTION: News
PAGE: 2
BYLINE: Rodenhiser, David

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Protecting store clerks; Convenience store robberies are so common it's only a matter of time before somebody's killed

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The frightening escalation of armed robberies at convenience stores warrants government action. Emboldened by knives, guns and drugs, robbers are getting more brazen. Meanwhile, store owners and clerks have become fed up and are fighting back. Somebody is going to die.

I'm not a fan of government committees. But I think Premier John Hamm should strike a task force involving convenience store operators, police and government to look for ways to help protect store clerks and their customers. Otherwise, it's only a matter of time before someone pays with their life, like Yancy Meyer or Albert Nasrallah.

Clearly something has to be done, says Matthew Meyer, whose son Yancy, 19, was stabbed repeatedly by a robber at an Antigonish Needs store in May 2001. The government has to do something and it has to be on a province-wide basis.

In the 211/42 years since Yancy's murder, the only effort on the matter was an NDP bill that included one clause that would have required government to enact workplace violence regulations. The Hamm government never called the bill to a vote.

Sid Chedrawe, chairman of the Independent Food Stores Association, recalls a similar lack of results after Nasrallah, a Dartmouth shopkeeper, was fatally stabbed by a crack-crazed robber in 1997. Frightened store owners met with police officials and were told they would work together.

It went no further. We met once or twice and that was it, Chedrawe said.

The problem is, any real effort to protect store clerks from violent robbers will cost money. Many independent stores don't have a lot of cash to invest in extra staff and security measures. And in tight financial times, government is loath to start spending in new areas. But I guarantee you that if thugs with pistols and knives were holding up downtown Halifax law firms every day of the week, the government would bloody well do something about it. And fast.

Sadly, government has decided that robbery is simply a cost of doing business for convenience stores. The people whose lives are at risk lack political clout: independent stores are often owned and operated by immigrant families, and chain stores are staffed by people making little more than minimum wage.

We don't even rate a blip on their radar, Chedrawe said.

Chedrawe argues the federal and provincial governments provided criminals with the motive to commit robberies by significantly increasing taxes on cigarettes since 2001. Now, a shelf full of cigarettes can be worth $2,500, and is light enough to carry away in a couple of bags.

He suggested the provincial government should redirect some of its tobacco tax windfall back to convenience stores, perhaps by setting up a payroll rebate program - similar to the incentives handed regularly to call centres and Sobeys - to help shopkeepers hire a second clerk for night shifts. Or, he added, municipalities could be given money to hire more police officers.

With the limited amount of resources they have, the police are doing the best job they can, Chedrawe said. They can't be in every place at the same time.

Matthew Meyer said Sobeys has worked since his son's murder to improve safety in Needs stores by encouraging franchisees to have a second clerk on duty, or to install security systems where customers are buzzed-in at night. But such initiatives would be pricey for mom-and-pop stores, he said.

It would cost between $2,000 and $3,000 per store, if you're putting in buzz-in locks and all that kind of stuff. But if it saves a person's life - I mean, our son doesn't come home at night anymore. So, what price do you put on a life?

drodenhiser@hfxnews.ca

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Desertdog
January 6, 2004, 01:43 AM
From some articles I have read to help prevent robberies in convience stores is to place the counter next to an outside window where there is an unobstructed view of the clerk from the outside.

In addition, my own suggestion is, have 2 or more, armed persons working at one time, in different parts of the building, but within sight or sound of each other.:evil:

7.62FullMetalJacket
January 6, 2004, 02:36 AM
I think armed clerks would put a stop to this nonsense. Is this in Canada or Britain? I assume one of these socialist paradises because of the call for government to do something. Self defense is a moral imperative of the individual.

Moparmike
January 6, 2004, 05:53 AM
Even in America, I am pretty sure that most company policies forbid the posession of weapons (ie firearms) upon company property.:fire:

c_yeager
January 6, 2004, 06:24 AM
Emboldened by knives, guns and drugs, robbers are getting more brazen.

Yes this new trend of guns, knives and, drugs is really taking the world by suprise.

I LOVE how the general tone of the article and of the people interviewed places the entire responsibility of a small buisinesses security firmly on the shoulders of the government. Of course the government asked for this when they took away the tools of defense from the people. Thats just the sort of backlash we were expecting i.e. "take away my guns and my defense becomes your problem". Im sure that there is a new law already in the works to "solve" this issue. Im thinking something along the lines of: "store-keepers are now required to surrender all demanded goods and monies to thieves without question and MUST treat that person with the same coutesy afforded a customer and offer the keys to their personal conveyence and an evening with their spouse under penalty of law". That should take care of it.

Even in America, I am pretty sure that most company policies forbid the posession of weapons (ie firearms) upon company property.

This is true for chain stores like 7-11 and AM/PM but most certainly NOT the case in mom and pop type stores (which i think the article is primarily talking about). Think back to the pictures from the LA riots of store owners standing visibly armed protecting their property. Pictures like those help me remember that no matter how bad things get you really cant keep down the American Spirit.

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