Convenience Stores and Security Liability
How often do you run down to your local convenience store to pick up a gallon of milk or satisfy your midnight craving for a snack? According to the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, there are more than 135,000 convenience stores operating within the United States and they collectively attract more than a million visitors every single day. Unfortunately, customers are not the only ones attracted to these roadside businesses. Convenience stores also attract thieves and they are a prime target for criminal activity. FBI statistics show that, of all robberies known to law enforcement officers, about six percent occur on the premises of a convenience store.
Store Owners May Be Liable for Injuries Sustained on Premises
The prevalence of convenience store crimes is no secret and store owners should take these concerns into consideration when making decisions about the daily operations of their stores. The state of Florida has specific laws regarding the duties of convenience store owners to secure their businesses. Some of the specific requirements include:
- An installed and working security camera system;
- A drop safe that limits access to large amounts of cash;
- A well-lit parking area;
- A posted notice stating that the cash register contains $50 or less;
- An unobstructed view from the outside the store to the area where sales transactions take place;
- Height markers at the entrance doorway; and
- A silent alarm that communicates directly with law enforcement or a private security agency.
For stores that have experienced a violent incident since July 1, 1989, additional safety measures may apply, including:
- At least two employees on the premises at all times between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.;
- A security guard on the premises between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.; and
- Business doors locked between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. All transactions must occur via a pass-through door or window.
The state created these safety measures to keep convenience store workers and customers safe. Some of them, like the drop safe requirement, are designed to make the store less attractive to potential thieves. Others, like the height markers and cameras, are meant to not only deter, but to help law enforcement officers identify the assailant in the event of a crime. A recent report by News4 in Jacksonville discussed concerns about the safety of convenience stores. According to the article, noncompliance is common, with roughly a fourth of the state’s convenience stores operating without a surveillance camera on site.
Convenience store operators have a duty to the public they serve. They must put measures in place to maintain the safety and security of the premises. Failure to adequately meet this responsibility can create security liability for any injuries that may result. With the assistance of an experienced lawyer, victims of these crimes may successfully mount a case to hold store owners financially responsible.
If you or a loved one has been injured during a convenience store incident, contact the Miami legal team of Pita Weber & Del Prado for knowledgeable and skillful representation. Call the office today at 305-670-2889 for a free consultation.