What Are Convenience Stores?
C-stores are a unique type of commercial property that offer 24-hour service, operate mostly on cash, can be run by a single employee, and are conveniently located for quick shopping. This makes them highly convenient for customers, but unfortunately also makes them a target for criminals. Over the years, the convenience store industry has made significant progress in preventing and deterring robberies. In the past, these late-night businesses were the only option and therefore an easy target for robbers. However, the c-store business has since become more complex and evolved beyond its 1970s roots.
Early Security Tactics
In the mid-1970s, the security of convenience stores was considered primarily a responsibility of the police. The major issues that affected these establishments during late hours were crimes such as armed robbery and attacks on both customers and employees. The most common crimes were beer thefts and shoplifting, which were a nuisance for inexperienced store owners and often resulted in numerous requests for police intervention. There were no research or effective crime prevention programs at that time that focused on these security issues.
In the mid-1970s, most law enforcement agencies viewed convenience stores as a nuisance due to their 24-hour operation and reliance on a single clerk. Robbers found them to be easy targets, with profits ranging from $300-500 per job. Despite attempts such as stakeouts, undercover graveyard clerks, and backroom shotgun squads, law enforcement struggled to prevent convenience store crime and resorted to simply arresting the perpetrators. In some cases, these methods resulted in horrific violence.
Robbery Prevention Evolution
New programs were created at first to aid convenience stores in identifying robbers and removing them from the streets. A few stores started installing black and white video cameras as they became more affordable. This led to a significant decrease in robberies and employee theft in those stores. Meanwhile, a law enforcement innovator invented a disguised mechanized 35mm camera called Crime Eye, which would activate during a robbery when bait money was taken from a money clip installed inside the cash register.
The police were able to capture and solve numerous robberies thanks to the images of the perpetrators provided by both systems, marking the first time such visual aid was available. The technology revealed that a limited number of individuals were behind multiple robberies. However, the speaker box cameras were conspicuous and frequently failed to capture footage at crucial moments.