Houston Wants Convenience Stores to Be Safer

The City of Houston wants to make convenience stores inconvenient for crime. Rod Rice reports that the first step for store owners is to register with the Houston Police Department.

An ordinance passed by city council earlier this year aims at making convenience stores safer for employees and customers. Now HPD wants all convenience stores to register with the department. There’s no fee involved and registration can be done online at Chief Harold Hurtt says registering is important.

“We need to have the stores get registered so we know the locations that are going to be involved and give us a better idea of how we can focus our resources.”

Once registered the stores will get a decal and certificate for the store and they will also get a training DVD for employees. HPD says initially stores will be asked to make sure their cash registers have an unobstructed view so they can be seen from outside the store. HPD Assistant Chief John Trevino says stores will be required to meet additional standards by January of 2010. He says first each store must have at least two security cameras.

“We say high resolution security cameras, then the drop safe and also have a cash regulation policy and then the last thing is to have a silent panic alarm system in the store.”

Kaiser Kasimali with the Greater Houston Retailers Association likes the collaborative way the ordinance was written and the soft touch approach to its implementation.

“If you go an talk to them nicely and tell them this is your incentive, we are going to help you secure your business, why not?, they will put the security cameras, the safe and clean-up the windows, they will definitely do that.”

Chief Hurtt says the Convenience Store task Force has been working with convenience store owners since the start of the year and convenience store crime is down 21% so far this year compared to last year.