Center for Problem-Oriented Policing

Summary of Responses

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 How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
1 Understanding the ownership, management structure, and operations of local convenience stores Tailors the responses to the stores ’ particular needs and resources …the management structure is clearly defined and information is available to police Independent stores, not tied to rigid commercial guidelines, may not have the financial backing to implement security changes; industry associations may oppose recommendations
2 Collaborating with private security Enhances likelihood that effective responses will be implemented …police and private security recognize their respective legitimate interests Well suited for municipalities with large number of retailers
3 Targeting repeat victims Focuses attention on highest-risk locations, increasing likelihood of improving protection of those stores …analysis of repeat victimization is timely and accurate Media reports may contribute to repeat victimization by spotlighting a store’s vulnerability
4 Reevaluating responses consistently Refines understanding of past responses and improves future responses …decisionmakers are constantly researching new strategies and are willing to reconsider past responses Stakeholders will advocate a variety of changes based on their respective interests
Specific Responses to Reduce Convenience Store Robbery
Retailer Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
5 Maximizing natural surveillance Increases robbers’ risk of detection by optimizing visibility of key areas …views into and within the store are unobstructed by signs, displays, etc. Placement of safes and cash register can enhance ability for observation
6 Having multiple employees on duty during high-risk periods Deters potential offenders because they would have more difficulty controlling more than one victim …local robbery patterns clearly identify high-risk periods Increases costs to stores; likely to require legislation due to industry opposition; effectiveness debated
7 Controlling access Limits offenders’ opportunity to escape quickly, which may deter offenders altogether …number of entrances/exits are limited, and exterior environment provides some obstacles to a quick escape Difficult for stores to balance easy access for customers with obstructed access for potential robbers
8 Establishing territoriality Controlling certain store characteristics empowers the employees over would-be robbers by providing a logistical advantage …stores are not located near major roads or high- crime areas; stores are near a police station Not all territorial elements are readily altered
9 Promoting legitimate activity Increases risk of detection by encouraging steady activity among patrons and others …stores operate gas pumps that attract traffic at all hours Free coffee or other promotions can invite late-night traffic; refusing to sell illicit products can reduce presence of potential offenders
10 Training employees A well-trained staff reduces the vulnerability of a business by emphasizing methods of robbery deterrence and violence avoidance …it is required for all employees, with refresher training as needed Costly in time and possibly dollars; attracting workers to convenience stores for any length of time is challenging in itself
11 Maintaining store appearance Deters potential offenders by suggesting that employees are vigilant against robbery …employees spend time away from registers to maintain appearance, thereby hindering a quick robbery Convenience store robbers may not make this rational inference
12 Using cash-control procedures Limiting cash available to clerks can dissuade offenders as well as minimize losses …cash policy is clearly posted Some offenders either don’t trust the posted signs or don’t care if the take is limited
13 Installing cameras and alarms Surveillance and security equipment that are in plain sight to customers may provide deterrence and increase risk of detection …cameras actually record activity, and employees have fixed and remote activator devices to sound alarms Costly; quality of images is key for best value; may aid identification process if eyewitnesses are panicked
Police Responses
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
14 Providing robbery prevention and awareness training Improves 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
15 Inspecting convenience stores for compliance with robbery prevention measures Increases likelihood that known effective measures will be implemented …there are meaningful consequences for failure to implement effective measures Standards might be either mandated by law or voluntarily agreed to by the convenience store industry
16 Enforcing prohibitions on loitering outside convenience stores Minimizes opportunities for potential offenders to plan a robbery …stores cooperate with police in enforcement and prosecution Valid laws must be in place
Responses With Limited Effectiveness
# Response How It Works Works Best If… Considerations
17 Conducting robbery stakeouts Increases likelihood of apprehension of offenders in the act …police have specific reliable information about a robbery attempt and safety of store employees can be assured Resource-intensive due to unpredictability of robbery attempts; armed confrontations are risky to police officers and employees
18 Increasing police patrols Periodic observation by police will either deter a robbery situation or result in apprehending an offender …police can target repeat victims or vulnerable days/times Quick nature of convenience store robberies makes the chance of apprehension unlikely
19 Maintaining a consistent police presence Deters potential offenders from attempting a robbery …presence is reliable and well-known to potential offenders Difficult for police to ensure reliable presence, given competing responsibilities
20 Establishing satellite facilities Deters potential offenders through enhanced likelihood of police presence …location/ workspace is clearly identified as police space Depends on resource availability; requires cooperation with store management