Convenience store owners concerned about robberies

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – Owners of a Chattanooga convenience store on Brainerd Road say their business is targeted with crime. After being robbed at gunpoint on Tuesday night, they want answers.

It is a normal day for business at Star Mart. Ginny Britto’s family owns the store and she sometimes helps out.

“I am in college right now so whenever I can, I come back, I was here all throughout the summer and then just on occasional breaks and stuff,” Britto said.

This business opened up last May. Since then, Britto says there have been some problems.

“We have had incidents of people stealing merchandise and we have had like surveillance footage, with people’s faces clearly shown and we have had other disturbances and experiences with people trying to give us counterfeit money,” she said.

She says on Tuesday night it reached a new level when they were robbed at gunpoint. Security footage shows two people walking into the store, taking out their guns, and going behind the counter where Britto’s parents were working.

“My mom, she has never really worked before, she has never really worked before, because she has always been a stay at home mom. When she called me she was very calm, I guess. I know they were still in shock, you know. They handled it pretty well, I want to say,” Britto said.

The suspects made off with cash, lottery tickets, and cigarettes, totaling an estimated one thousand dollars. Britto says other stores in the area have also recently experienced robberies.

“It does look like they are targeting local gas stations and especially ones that are not like big stores you know. Kind of stuff that they think they can get away with. So definitely keep your guard up, I want to say.”

While everything is back to usual, she hopes the people responsible are caught.

“So whoever it is, they definitely need to be stopped as soon as possible,” Britto said.

If you have any information, you are asked to call Chattanooga Police. Police offered the following tips to business owners.

Business Robbery Tips:

  • Make sure you can make eye contact with each customer who enters the store. If you can greet each individual. It lets them know that YOU know they are there.
  • Make sure there are clear line of sight within the store.  Provide as much visibility as possible, allowing people outside to see inside the store. Interior lighting should be bright enough to allow people outside your business to see people inside. Replace burned out bulbs promptly.
  • Implement a cash control program. Put excess cash in a safe or sent for deposit. A business should only have enough cash to give change for purchases or enough needed for normal business.
  • A good way to help deter a robbery is by keeping the smallest amount of cash on the premises as possible. And be sure to post a notice to that effect that is visible to customers.
  • Be discreet in cash counting and bank deposits. Depending on your business, you might opt to make bank deposits using an armored car service.
  • Take precautions during opening and closing.When opening, do a visual check of the entire store before starting your daily opening routine to make sure nothing is out of the ordinary. And at closing, have employees check all back rooms, restrooms, and closets to ensure that no one remains in the store.
  • Invest in a security alarm system. Arming your facility with a business security system is an excellent deterrent of would-be robbers.
  • Consider installing security cameras. They not only work as a robbery prevention tactic, but can also help with identifying a robber after the robbery has been committed.
  • Having a security camera feed displayed to the customers will advertise that there are cameras in the store.


Categories: Chattanooga, Local News

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