City may require store safeguards; police offer help
In 1992, the Legislature passed the Convenience Business Security Act to help protect convenience stores from violent crimes by mandating security devices and standards for all businesses open between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
The law exempts businesses if they are a family business, have more than five employees on the premises or more than 10,000 square feet of retail space.
A survey conducted a few years ago revealed that only 18 businesses were required to meet the standards.
The City Council now wants to adopt an ordinance to make all convenience stores safer. Chief Chuck Harmon and his staff provided an analysis of recent store robberies.
There were 113 convenience store robberies in the city between January 2006 and January 2009. Findings show:
• 101 were committed by armed perpetrators.
• 80 were convenience stores (33 were gas stations).
• Half (56) of the stores were locally operated (not a chain).
• Most robberies occurred between 6 p.m. and 3 a.m.
• The amount of loss mostly ranged between $100 to $300.
• 94 percent of the robberies took place when no customers were in the store.
• 67 robberies occurred with one clerk on duty, 36 with two clerks working and 10 with three clerks working.
More than one-third of the stores did not have video surveillance.
Harmon has told the council he will offer store owners up to $500 grants from the police forfeiture fund to help comply with the proposed ordinance.
Bill Proffitt, St. Petersburg police spokesman