C-Store Kidnapping Sparks Safety Review

After a clerk was abducted from a Cedar Rapids Kwik Stop c- store Monday, May 17, attention has been drawn to the safety of clerks who work the late shift, KCRG-TV reported. It also has prompted c-stores to take a look at the safety measures they have in place.

In Cedar Rapids, a law requires if only one employee is working the overnight shift, the store must have a surveillance camera-the Kwik Shop at 1001 First Ave. did-and it helped police catch the suspect who had brought the clerk- 19 year old Amanda Daniel to his apartment.

The security video showed Daniel being escorted out of the store where she was clerking alone at about 4 a.m., by a white male holding her neck. Police later apprehended suspect Keith Van Elson Jr., 54, at an apartment where Daniel was found late Monday morning.

Kwik Shop, which is one of five c-store chains owned by Cincinnati-based Kroger Co., is reviewing its policies following the abduction.  “We’re looking into it internally to address any safety concerns that we would uncover here,” said Jeff Parker, president of Kwik Shop. “On an ongoing basis, we conduct training for our associates on security issues. We encourage them to pay close attention to customers and their surroundings in the store at all times. After a situation like this, we most definitely will look at what we have in place today and review whether it’s something we need to revise.”

“We are really grateful that the police were able to find her as quick as they did,” he said. “We’re trying to get in contact with her family to offer any help and support that we can.”

Parker added assaults on Kwik Shop employees are very rare.

The circumstances of the abduction were unusual, according to Chris McGoey, a Los Angeles security consultant and author who has consulted on security plans for 7-Eleven and other retail chains. He told the news station it’s common for c-stores to operate with only one clerk. In fact, he said, most convenience stores were designed for one-clerk operation, at least until the industry changed to include expanded operations such as restaurants in the past two decades. But having a female clerk operating a store alone late at night is far less common, McGoey said. “Probably 90% of the people who work these shifts are male,” McGoey said. “Robbers prefer to rob women over men,” He said, adding studies supported the finding.

Many Cedar Rapids c-stores close before midnight. Clerks who do work late told KCRG-TV they always pay attention to who enters and exits the stores and react to each dangerous situation differently.

“If it’s just a matter of you giving them the money and then they leave, that’s one thing. But, if it’s someone who wants to harm you, you have to be a little more aggressive and defend yourself,” said Ann Trenor, a clerk at Market Express.

Many stores have panic buttons clerks can press if they feel unsafe, while others can also press a different button to automatically lock the doors if they want to keep a suspicious person out.






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