Convenience & Carwash Canada March/Apr issue 2018

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By Bob Chrismas

Protecting Employees and Customers from Drug Fueled Violence

P

rofessional organized bank robbers are largely a figment of our not-to-distant history. Theft with violence, or the threat of violence (the Criminal Code definition of robbery), in recent decades is most often now committed by desperate people feeding tragic drug addictions that override all logic or risk of ramifications. Now in my 29th year of policing, I find that the discourse among my law enforcement colleagues has moved beyond the common knowledge that convenience stores are the most common target of robberies, to the emerging phenomenon of elevated violence related to new and changing dangerous street drugs. Convenience stores, by definition, are among the only visible and available targets at all hours of the day and even holidays, for robberies. They are convenient targets for people who are desperate for a few dollars to buy their next high and escape the torture of coming down on whatever drug they are

addicted to. Law enforcement and pharmaceutical staff know that a trend in the past decade saw people no longer demanding money at knife or gunpoint; rather than cash they were demanding oxy (oxycodone, a semisynthetic opioid narcotic that is 1.5 times more potent than morphine). The break-ins and robberies continued until the pharmacies hardened to the threat, placing oxy in vaults and putting out signs that there is none accessible to employees. Convenience stores and carwashes suffer as an extension of this problem, as cigarettes are easily converted into cash in the black market, and new drug trends are much more volatile. There will be growing pains as cannabis (aka marijuana, weed) is legalized and distributed widely. Time will tell whether convenience stores are eventually licensed to sell it. Legislators and law enforcement in Canada are currently pre-occupied with sorting out the larger problems, such as how to deal with people

Convenience stores, by definition, are among the only visible and available targets at all hours of the day and even holidays, for robberies.