Crime occurrences at gas stations are unfortunately common in the United States. Second, only to taxicab drivers, gas stations are an industry susceptible to a high amount of workplace homicide. There are over 32,000 robberies a year in gas stations and nearly 11,000 of those will be robbed multiple times. A panic button for gas stations can give station employees comfort during those late-night and early morning working hours.
What do I do if My Gas Station is Robbed?
- First and foremost, remain calm. Getting worked up will not help the situation in the slightest.
- Do what the robber says. Short of leaving the premises with the robber, you should do what the robber says, including giving money and merchandise. These material things can be replaced; you can not.
- Try to get a good description of the robber. Sometimes, this may be easier said than done. You need to remember things like height, weight, hair color, any tattoos and anything else that may be descriptive. It couldn’t hurt to write these things down immediately after the robber leaves the premises.
- Call the police. This can be accomplished by hitting a panic button for gas stations, or this could be achieved just by calling 911. Either way, these actions should not be done until it is safe to do so.
How to Avoid Gas Station Robberies
There are a few precautions that gas station employees can take to decrease the chance of robbery.
The first would be to implement a policy that limits the amount of money that is kept in the registers. Since gas stations conduct a lot of cash transactions throughout a work day, they usually have a significant amount of cash on hand at any given time. Many gas stations require their employees to make a cash deposit whenever their cash on hand reaches a certain threshold. Sometimes this can happen multiple times a day. Additionally, some stations have signs that indicate that the clerks do not have access to the stored money in the safe. 80% of store robberies are deterred when the amount of money kept in the registers is limited in some form or fashion.
Another way to deter store robberies would be for the store employees to see all parts of the store at all times. This safety precaution can be accomplished in several different manners. Many stations employ the use of surveillance cameras and mirrors. Bright lighting also helps employees have a better view of their surroundings. OSHA also recommends several steps to take to deter in-station emergencies. View their recommendations here.
Examples of Gas Station Violence:
- Robbers hit 2 Medford stores within 2 days – October 8, 2018, two armed robbers hit two Medford, New York gas stations in just over a 48 hour period. One of the robbers pistol-whipped one of the clerks on the way out of the store.
Armed men rob Cape Coral Gas Station – November 21, 2018, Two men robbed a Circle K store at gunpoint in Cape Coral, Florida overnight and got away an undisclosed amount of cash.
- Wichita police investigate 8-weekend robberies – In early December 2018, Wichita police investigated a string of armed robberies that occurred over the span of a single weekend. The Suspects were believed to be a group of teenagers.
New Jersey gas station clerk killed during a robbery – January 03, 2019, In Edison, New Jersey, A gas station employee was fatally shot and killed during a robbery in New Jersey Thursday morning, even though he seemingly complied with the suspect’s demands.
- Shooting at Northeast Richland gas station– January 6, 2019, In Richland County, South Carolina, One person was killed in a shooting at a Richland County gas station Sunday around 9:30 a.m. at the Exxon gas station on the 9400 block of Wilson Boulevard.
Dearborn Man Shot and Killed at Inkster Gas Station – On January 19, 2019, in Inkster, Michigan, a 34-year-old man was fatally shot after an argument with the suspect. The suspect fired several rounds, striking and killing the victim.
- Convenience store employee killed in Kelso during a robbery – January 22, 2019, A gas station employee (Kayla Chapman) was shot and killed shortly after 4 a.m. Tuesday during a robbery at Holt’s Quik Chec in Kelso, Washington.
2 charged in armed robbery of University Boulevard Shell station Birmingham, Al – Sunday, January 6, 2019, a robbery happened at 9:58 a.m. at the Shell on University Boulevard. Birmingham police said the two men entered the store and one of them brandished a semi-automatic pistol. They demanded money from the clerk and then ran across the street into the Southtown public housing community. No injuries were reported.
Police identify 2 killed at St. Pete gas station – January 21, 2019, St. Petersberg, Florida, two men were killed and a third was injured during a shooting at a Shell gas station. According to police, a crowd of more than 100 people were at the Shell station at the time shots were fired around 9:30 p.m.
Robbery Safety Tips for Gas Stations
- Employees should remain alert and observant
- Be watchful of suspicious activity
- Call 911 if suspicious activity is seen
- Keep cash at a minimum by using money drops and time safes
- Have a plan if a robbery occurs
- Have safety meetings to discuss the plan
- Obtain suspect and suspect vehicle descriptions
- Utilize alarm systems
- Keep the business well lit
- Keep cash registers visible from outside the store
- Call 911 immediately if a robbery occurs
- Lock the doors and do not touch anything
Why Use a Computer Panic Button for Gas Stations?
A computer panic button for gas stations would be useful in a robbery situation. Because many gas station clerks work alone, there is a big possibility that the clerk has to move around the store. Between helping customers and cleaning up shelves, among other duties, the clerk typically will not stay in one spot.
One of the main reasons a gas station should use a tech-driven panic button is the fact that it notifies emergency services within moments of an alert being raised. Compare this to a traditionally wired panic button that usually takes around two minutes to alert only one responder, and this is assuming the button is working properly in the first place.
A panic button for gas stations is also discreet when an alert is being activated. Other than trained personnel, the assailant will not know the panic alert has been initiated. Silently, responders are notified with alert description details to help handle the emergency in the most effective way.
Our wireless hardware button is also beneficial for gas station clerks in particular since they usually work alone. The wireless button has a 750-foot range from the USB receiver, so the clerk could be working elsewhere in the store and activate an alert if needed.
Finally, our unique feature of linking several locations together would be helpful for corporate gas station chains. If an alert were raised in a store, another store in the connected locations network would be notified within seconds what is going on. Furthermore, the store and other personnel can be notified directly via the computer software application, text message, email, or automated phone call.
Incident Response Plans
An incident response plan is essential in the event a robbery takes place. What steps is the clerk supposed to follow during and after a robbery occurs? Although it may seem counter-intuitive, the best thing to do is to comply with the robber’s demands. Most robbers are not out to hurt anyone; they just want to take something and leave with minimal witnesses and intervention.
Panic buttons can be kind of a catch – 22. When is the proper time to activate it? Many emergency personnel will advise people not to activate a panic button until the robber has left the premises. Activating a button while the robbery is still in progress could potentially trigger a hostage situation if the robber happens to turn around and see police waiting on the other side of the door. If it is safe to activate the alarm, do so. If it is not safe, do not activate the alarm until the coast is clear. Bottom line: use your best judgment as each crime of this nature is different.
In conclusion, a computer panic button for gas stations would be beneficial for many reasons including, but not limited to robberies. Technology-driven panic buttons are discreet when activated. A panic button for gas stations alerts emergency services within moments of being activated. In our case, the panic buttons inform responders and colleagues within seconds of the alarm being initiated. Most importantly, computer panic buttons can help give gas station employees peace of mind when working alone.
Still Unsure About a Panic Button System?
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