National Safety Month

June is National Safety Month and the third week of the month is dedicated to being aware of your surroundings. We thought what better time to talk about the increase in convenience store crime and ways you can protect your store, employees, and customers.

According to the FBI and NACS, convenience store robberies have increased in the last decade. Knowing the statistics on these robberies can help you determine what safety measures are appropriate for your store and how to train your employees to be on guard against such crimes. Fifty percent of these crimes occur between the hours of 10 pm and 12 am, 60% on the weekend (Friday-Sunday), and 50% between the months of November and February. And did you know that stores that have been the victim of one successful robbery are actually more likely to be victims of a second crime. The greatest risk being in the first several weeks after the robbery. So, if you can prevent the first one you're able to help prevent subsequent robberies as well.

Let's take a look at some of the simple things you can do to make your convenience store a less than desirable target. The best advise law enforcement officials have for keeping your convenience store safe is to have clear lines of site. Changes like using banners instead of window signage so employees can see into the parking lot and passersby can see into the store. This same idea works inside the store as well, keeping low display shelves to enable cashiers to observe suspicious behavior.

Next to clear site lines the best line of defense is a secure parking lot. Be sure that your parking lot is well lit, so you can put good use to those newly cleared windows and keep an eye on what is happening outside. It addition to a well lit parking lot you should examine the possible entrances and exits to your store. A good escape route is an important component in determining which stores are the victims of robberies. To help deter potential criminals make sure that alleys are fenced off and foot paths have restricted access. You can also control foot path traffic with well placed hedges and landscaping, both improving the appearance of your facility and helping maintain a safe environment.

After creating clear site lines, improving the lighting, and access point in your parking lot, it's time to take a look at your store front. An alarming number of robberies are now occurring in "smash and grab" scenarios like these. In these instances a car is driven through the front of the store and thieves are then able to enter the store and complete the robbery. Police forces recommend two changes to help decrease the risk of these types of robberies. The first: limiting the number of parking spaces facing the store front. The reduced number of spaces can increase awareness for employees as to customers coming in and out of those spaces and raise red flags when suspicious activity occurs. The second adjustment is the installation of steel bollards. The bollards provide a physical barrier, slowing or even preventing vehicles from entering the store. These bollards also help to protect the safety of employees and customers inside the store in the same way they help to prevent accidental store front crashes.

Law enforcement offers one last, and perhaps the most important of all safety tips, all preventive strategies loose their effectiveness over time. The best preventive strategy you can employ is change. Leave us a comment and tell us how you keep your convenience store and employees safe.