Houston convenience store robberies: HPD detective reminds employees to stay calm, look for identifiable features

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) — Convenience store robberies are happening all across Houston making many employees feel unsafe.

Some store clerks told ABC13 off-camera that these robberies are happening often, putting them at danger. Police say preventative measures can be put in place like good lighting, surveillance cameras, and barriers between customers and employees behind the register.

Unfortunately, all the measures sometimes still don’t stop criminals.

Eyewitness News sees it week in and out: convenience stores targeted for quick money grabs. Police told ABC13 it’s one of the more common robberies across Houston. Some clerks are held at gunpoint and others are shoved to the ground, all of it caught on camera.

“We want people to get home safely every night, and trying to make sure that happens is a hard job,” Detective Jeff Brieden, of the Houston Police Robbery Division, said.

Sometimes, these convenience store robberies can become deadly. This past week, a man was sentenced to life in prison for killing a manager at a Willowbrook convenience store in 2016.

SEE ALSO: 27-year-old man sentenced to life without parole for killing convenience store manager in 2016

“I wish there was a bulletproof way of saying, ‘Hey, do this and you don’t have to worry about your place getting robbed,’” Brieden said.

In the last year the city mandated stores, including convenience stores through One Safe Houston to add high-resolution surveillance cameras that capture video 24/7. Bieden said videos like these are what he calls the bread and butter to get robbery cases solved.

“Just because these suspects are covered up and their faces are covered up – and I’ve had it happen many times over my career – it doesn’t keep their moms from knowing who they are,” Brieden said. “You can’t predict what somebody else’s actions are going to be.”

The message is to not frequent these places in the overnight hours and to visit places that are well-lit.

He said if convenience store employees do fall victim to a robbery, it’s important to stay calm and try to look out for identifiable features like scars and tattoos. HPD said its most recent crime stats show robberies are down 11%, but they don’t specify where convenience stores fall in that percentage.

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