• Center for Problem oriented policing

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Summary of Responses to Robbery of Convenience Stores

The table below summarizes the responses to convenience store robbery, the mechanism by which they are intended to work, the conditions under which they should work best, and some factors you should consider before implementing a particular response. It is critical that you tailor responses to local circumstances, and that you can justify each response based on reliable analysis. In most cases, an effective strategy will involve implementing several different responses. Law enforcement responses alone are seldom effective in reducing or solving the problem.

General Considerations for an Effective Response Strategy
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best If…Considerations
1Understanding the ownership, management structure, and operations of local convenience storesTailors the responses to the stores' particular needs and resources…the management structure is clearly defined and information is available to policeIndependent stores, not tied to rigid commercial guidelines, may not have the financial backing to implement security changes; industry associations may oppose recommendations
2Collaborating with private securityEnhances likelihood that effective responses will be implementedpolice and private security recognize their respective legitimate interestsWell suited for municipalities with large number of retailers
3Targeting repeat victimsFocuses attention on highest-risk locations, increasing likelihood of improving protection of those storesanalysis of repeat victimization is timely and accurateMedia reports may contribute to repeat victimization by spotlighting a store's vulnerability
4Reevaluating responses consistentlyRefines understanding of past responses and improves future responsesdecisionmakers are constantly researching new strategies and are willing to reconsider past responsesStakeholders will advocate a variety of changes based on their respective interests
Specific Responses to Reduce Convenience Store Robbery
Retailer Responses
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
5Maximizing natural surveillanceIncreases robbers' risk of detection by optimizing visibility of key areasviews into and within the store are unobstructed by signs, displays, etc.Placement of safes and cash register can enhance ability for observation
6Having multiple employees on duty during high-risk periodsDeters potential offenders because they would have more difficulty controlling more than one victimlocal robbery patterns clearly identify high-risk periodsIncreases costs to stores; likely to require legislation due to industry opposition; effectiveness debated
7Controlling accessLimits offenders' opportunity to escape quickly, which may deter offenders altogethernumber of entrances/exits are limited, and exterior environment provides some obstacles to a quick escapeDifficult for stores to balance easy access for customers with obstructed access for potential robbers
8Establishing territorialityControlling certain store characteristics empowers the employees over would-be robbers by providing a logistical advantagestores are not located near major roads or high-crime areas; stores are near a police stationNot all territorial elements are readily altered
9Promoting legitimate activityIncreases risk of detection by encouraging steady activity among patrons and othersstores operate gas pumps that attract traffic at all hoursFree coffee or other promotions can invite late-night traffic; refusing to sell illicit products can reduce presence of potential offenders
10Training employeesA well-trained staff reduces the vulnerability of a business by emphasizing methods of robbery deterrence and violence avoidanceit is required for all employees, with refresher training as neededCostly in time and possibly dollars; attracting workers to convenience stores for any length of time is challenging in itself
11 Maintaining store appearanceDeters potential offenders by suggesting that employees are vigilant against robberyemployees spend time away from registers to maintain appearance, thereby hindering a quick robberyConvenience store robbers may not make this rational inference
12Using cash-control proceduresLimiting cash available to clerks can dissuade offenders as well as minimize lossescash policy is clearly postedSome offenders either don't trust the posted signs or don't care if the take is limited
13Installing cameras and alarmsSurveillance and security equipment that are in plain sight to customers may provide deterrence and increase risk of detectioncameras actually record activity, and employees have fixed and remote activator devices to sound alarmsCostly; quality of images is key for best value; may aid identification process if eyewitnesses are panicked
Police Responses
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
14Providing robbery prevention and awareness trainingImproves stores' capacity to prevent and respond appropriately to robberies

training is based on reliable knowledge and made available to stores that otherwise have limited access to training

Compliance ensures effectiveness; small-operation staff may not have time to attend; gives police familiarity with business and ownership
15Inspecting convenience stores for compliance with robbery prevention measuresIncreases likelihood that known effective measures will be implementedthere are meaningful consequences for failure to implement effective measuresStandards might be either mandated by law or voluntarily agreed to by the convenience store industry
16Enforcing prohibitions on loitering outside convenience storesMinimizes opportunities for potential offenders to plan a robberystores cooperate with police in enforcement and prosecutionValid laws must be in place
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
Response No.ResponseHow It WorksWorks Best IfConsiderations
17Conducting robbery stakeoutsIncreases likelihood of apprehension of offenders in the actpolice have specific reliable information about a robbery attempt and safety of store employees can be assuredResource-intensive due to unpredictability of robbery attempts; armed confrontations are risky to police officers and employees
18Increasing police patrolsPeriodic observation by police will either deter a robbery situation or result in apprehending an offenderpolice can target repeat victims or vulnerable days/timesQuick nature of convenience store robberies makes the chance of apprehension unlikely
19Maintaining a consistent police presenceDeters potential offenders from attempting a robberypresence is reliable and well-known to potential offendersDifficult for police to ensure reliable presence, given competing responsibilities
20Establishing satellite facilitiesDeters potential offenders through enhanced likelihood of police presencelocation/ workspace is clearly identified as police spaceDepends on resource availability; requires cooperation with store management
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