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Council Endorses Bill to Protect New Mexico C-Store Workers

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. -- City Council members in Albuquerque Monday threw their endorsement behind proposed state legislation aimed at curbing convenience store crime in New Mexico, reported

The law would require two clerks to work overnight shifts, outlaw window signs blocking the view into the store and require silent alarms and adequate lighting in all convenience stores. Debate on the measure could start in January.

State records show that 16 convenience store workers here died on the job in the past five years. In the same time period, 24 were raped and another 27 were kidnapped.

State Environmental Improvement Board studies show that criminals are less likely to hit convenience stores if those stores have video surveillance cameras, and if more than one person is working the overnight shift.

Celia Garcia, who is working to promote the bill, told council members her sister, Elizabeth, was brutally murdered in 2002 while working a solo overnight shift at a Hobbs convenience store. "She was raped, stabbed 56 times and her body was left," Garcia said. The attack was a "crime of opportunity," she added.

Council member Martin Heinrich led the effort to have the council endorse the bill Monday. Nick Bakas, the city's chief of public safety, said his department is also supporting the measure.

Garcia said she welcomed the support. If the measures were already law, "Liz would still be here today. I would still have a sister, and her three children would still have a mother."
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