Protection Urged for Late-Night Businesses
The City Council here may be the first in California to require some convenience stores and service stations to install silent alarms to summon police and bullet-proof glass to deter holdups.
Council members voted unanimously this week to order city attorneys to draft two separate ordinances affecting gas stations and convenience stores that are open between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Such stores are most vulnerable to robbery during those hours and their employees most vulnerable to violence, because criminals enjoy the cover of darkness and reduced customer traffic, Police Chief John Cleghorn said.
‘Hardening the Target’
“I would approve hardening the target,” Cleghorn said. “Obviously, we want to reduce robberies at these businesses.”
One of the measures--technically, an amendment to the city’s zoning code--would mandate silent alarm systems, approved by the police chief, for cashiers at newly constructed gas stations and convenience stores.
“My experience in dealing with businesses and business crime is that an alarm system is a deterrent,” Cleghorn said. In reporting a robbery, “there is tremendous time savings, and a much greater potential for apprehension.” A public hearing on the proposal drew no comments Wednesday night, but the head of a statewide group representing service station owners said Thursday that his members would support such a requirement.
“The silent alarm system would be outstanding,” said Jim Campbell, director of the California Service Station Assn., based in Concord. ". . . Our people are really exposed, and we need more protection out there.”
The second measure, an ordinance that would require bullet-proof glass booths for attendants at both new and existing service stations operating at night, was proposed Wednesday by Mayor Pro Tem William Franklin, himself a captain in the Anaheim Police Department.
“I think the service stations are a little more vulnerable” than convenience stores, he said, because they usually have less lighting, serve fewer customers at any given time, and offer easier escape.
Franklin’s proposal would give station owners four months to build security booths to protect their night-time employees.
“The higher the level of security, the more it’s going to prevent crime,” Cleghorn said, expressing his support for the security booth requirement. “It is a deterrent. It might prevent the crook (from) driving off the freeway to the service station.”
No penalties were proposed for failing to comply with the ordinance, but City Manager James Wheaton suggested that it might be a misdemeanor, prosecuted by the city attorney and punishable by a $500 fine.