Mesa C-stores Subject to New Security Rules

MESA, Ariz. -- City officials here are preparing new security rules for convenience stores in the area, saying retailers have failed to reduce high crime levels at the city's most problematic shops, the East Valley Tribune reported.

Convenience stores have opposed the rules for over a year, arguing the cost -- which can rise upwards of $10,000 -- is too high for some independent c-stores, according to the report. The rules adding include security cameras, better visibility, safety training and locking up beer during off-sale hours. In addition, owners may apply for an exemption if it would be too costly to implement. The shops would need a security plan approved by police so the operation would comply with the safety goals, the paper reported.

Police claim the shops are an excessive drain on resources, as the 10 stores with the most crime account for 46 percent of all convenience store calls in the city. Mesa has approximately 100 convenience stores, the newspaper reported.

Vice Mayor Kyle Jones told the paper he wasn't eager to make new rules, but felt the city can't rely on stores to protect themselves. "Our back's against the wall," he said in the report.

Arizona Food Marketing Alliance President Tim McCabe recommended the city to work with the 10 worst stores to see what progress could be made. While the alliance opposes the rules, its lobbyist Trish Hart said the industry wants to improve safety, but argued surveillance systems could cost $5,000 to $10,000.

In response, Mesa Councilman Dave Richins researched prices of surveillance systems on his mobile device, rattling off numbers that were less than $1,000, according to the newspaper.

"I'm getting even more dug in about supporting this," he said in the report. "Let's just do it."

Convenience store owner Rana Singh Sodhi has surveillance in his stores, but not enough capacity to store images for 30 days as police propose, the Tribune reported. Business at his three shops is down 30 percent to 40 percent recently, making it harder to pay for improvements, he told the Tribune. According to Sodhi, the proposed rules unfairly punish responsible store owners, rather than the shops that haven't done enough to improve safety. He said his stores have five or fewer calls to police a year.

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