When Convenience Store Clerks Attack

Aug. 5, 2006 — -- More than ever, convenience store clerks seem to be fighting back against thieves -- or at least that's the tale of the tape.

This past weekend, a cashier in a Boston Dunkin' Donuts fended off two gun wielding robbers, causing them to flee.

Recent surveillance video in the news has shown clerks taking on would-be robbers. For instance:

A clerk in San Diego turned into an all-star slugger, using a baseball bat to fend off a blowtorch-wielding man and force him into a parking lot.

An Exxon gas station clerk in Bethlehem, Pa. used a baseball bat to fight off a robber. He had been robbed five times in three weeks and knew that the robber would be back.

After a robber claimed to have a gun, a Kansas City clerk used a golf club to force the suspect out of the store, prompting people to nickname him "Tiger Woods."

In Warren, Mich., last month, gun-toting criminals were caught on tape trying to hold up a liquor store. The store clerk pulled out a gun and fired three shots, forcing the robbers to run for cover.

An Arkansas clerk even used a mop to fend off robbers.

'In Harm's Way'

However, valiant though their efforts are, experts say taking matters into their own hands puts clerks in danger.

"Although you're lashing out at them and you think you're doing the right thing, you're putting innocent people and yourself in harm's way," said Donald Henne, former NYPD detective bureau lieutenant commander who now works for Kroll Security.

Henne said that although convenience store robbery numbers are down across the nation, the rash of videos of clerks fighting back likely is because people enjoy seeing the criminals getting punished.

"We know it's wrong," he said. "It also is human interest, and the good guy is winning over evil, and that's what makes it exciting for the general public."

What to Do: Don't Be a Hero

There are about 140,000 convenience stores around the nation, which means that millions of customers may be at risk at any time.

The best thing to do if you are caught in the crossfire is to remain calm and not try to be a hero, Henne said.

Look inside a store before entering, and, if you find yourself caught in a bad situation, do not instigate violence. Take cover as inconspicuously as you can.

If approached, comply with the robber's demands and try to take mental notes to report later.

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