January 11, 2013

Editorial: Act to thwart robberies

With the number of overnight robberies in mind at convenience stores in the region lately, proprietors must work on ways to inhibit would-be thieves and protect employees.

The first step ought to be to make sure more than one clerk is on duty.

Police will tell you it’s drug money at the root of most of this evil. The purchase and sale of illegal drugs continues to rise in the North Country. That scourge, so prevalent in cities around America, has infested rural regions, as well, including ours.

Drug stores and homes known to contain sought-after prescription pharmaceuticals become victims of the hapless addicts, but the problem has widened. Other stores and other homes have been drawn into the maelstrom as addicts look for money with which to buy what they can’t get through thievery alone.

The obsession with obtaining these drugs isn’t the only reason for robberies, of course — stealing money at gunpoint is as old an occupation as guns themselves. But the geometric increase in drug abuse has drastically compounded what had previously been only an occasional problem.

So, typically, a person puts on a ski mask, arms himself with what at least looks like a lethal weapon and waits until business subsides before entering the store to empty the cash register.

Generally, only one clerk — often young and relatively inexperienced — is on duty. With police availability stretched in this vast rural geographic region, robbers figure they have time to make a getaway.

The wide array of police units are working assiduously and are making progress in interrupting the flow of drugs in the North Country, but they have a long way to go. And, meanwhile, thieves provoked by other needs are continuing their assaults, too.

So it’s up to the proprietors of all-night stores to prepare themselves for the worst. At the very least, two clerks should be on duty overnight. That would give greater comfort to both of them and perhaps inhibit the would-be robber. It might also afford them an avenue to contact police more quickly.

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