Gas stations and convenience stores raise unique security concerns for business owners, customers, and local law enforcement. Receiving high volumes of customers visiting for short periods of time, convenience stores can be a magnet for crime. Internal and external theft carry financial implications for businesses, but activity that occurs outside of the store can threaten the safety of visitors and the reputation of the business.
The Atlanta City Council recently proposed an ordinance requiring gas stations and convenience stores to install security cameras to reduce crime. While cameras may capture crimes as they occur and the recordings can be used in police investigations, they are not effective in preventing or stopping crime as it occurs.
Remote video monitoring is a more effective solution for preventing crime before it occurs or stopping it in its tracks at gas stations and convenience stores.
New Security Ordinance for DeKalb County Convenience Stores
A new ordinance passed in DeKalb County in the summer of 2023 is beginning to inspire the city of Atlanta to adopt a similar ordinance. On June 30, 2023, DeKalb County began requiring all 248 gas stations in the area to have upgraded 24-hour surveillance cameras.
The new ordinance requires video cameras to cover all points of entry, exits, points of sale, and each gas pump. The cameras must have a minimum of four megapixels with night vision and storage for 60 days of recorded footage.
The County seeks to enforce the ordinance by requiring compliance for the ability to obtain a business license and has created positions to visit gas stations in the area to ensure compliance.
Atlanta Video Surveillance Ordinance for Gas Stations
Following in the footsteps of DeKalb County, the Atlanta City Council has introduced a similar ordinance that will require all gas station and convenience store owners to install high-definition cameras at every gas pump that will record 24 hours, 7 days a week.
An analysis of police data by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution showed that on just one roadway since January 2022, 5,500 service request calls were made across 14 gas stations. 376 arrests were made during these police responses. The decision to propose a requirement for security cameras at gas stations is an attempt to reduce the amount of crime that occurs as well as the police time and resources that are spent on the response.
The proposed ordinance would require business owners to follow these regulations:
- Continuous video recording systems installed at each gas pump
- Surveillance cameras must be capable of producing a retrievable and identifiable image on film or tape that can be made a permanent record and that can be enlarged through projection or other means
- Cameras must be maintained in proper working order at all times and should be in operation during all hours the business is open for operation
- Establishments must have immediate availability of a back-up camera system in the event the primary system becomes inoperable
- If a crime occurs or an employee believes a crime has occurred, the police department shall be contacted immediately, and the film retrieved by a designated police officer
These measures seek to deter crime from occurring at gas stations and convenience stores which have been properties that experience a disproportionate amount of violent crime. However, simply installing cameras on the properties are not enough to prevent crime from escalating.
Remote Video Monitoring for Gas Stations and Convenience Stores
To reach the full potential of surveillance cameras to prevent crime, remote video monitoring is crucial. While recorded video footage can be helpful in assisting police in investigating a crime, if there is no one actively monitoring the cameras and reacting to situations, the crime cannot be effectively prevented.
VirtuGuard™ from BOS Security is a remote video monitoring solution that provides a proactive approach to security. Surveillance cameras installed at a business transmit live video feeds to the VirtuGuard™ Command Center for Live Agents to monitor in near real time.
In addition to monitoring live video feeds, Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be applied to cameras to detect motion or activity and send alarms into the monitoring stations for Virtual Agents to review. This solution is beneficial for gas stations and convenience stores outside of the operating hours when activity detected on the property can be an indication of escalating suspicious activity.
Deter Crime with Two-Way Audio
A key factor of remote video monitoring is the capability to intervene directly as an incident is occurring or before it even begins. By installing two-way audio speakers inside the store, around the exterior of the building, and through the gas pump area, VirtuGuard™ can de-escalate suspicious behavior.
For example, if a VirtuGuard™ Agent observes a verbal argument around the gas pumps begin to escalate, they can issue a custom audio message to alert the individuals involved that they are being monitored and recorded. In this event, an Agent may announce over the nearby speakers: “To the two men standing near Pump 4: You are being live monitored and recorded. Please finish pumping your gas and return to your vehicles.”
If the behavior persists or even escalates, VirtuGuard™ can issue another, firmer announcement. “To the two men fighting near Pump 4: You are engaging in illegal activity. Please return to your vehicles and leave the property or police will be dispatched.”
If the audio announcements are not enough the deter the illegal behavior, VirtuGuard™ can then notify onsite staff or local law enforcement of the activity.
Assist Onsite Staff and Local Police
For incidents that can’t be resolved through audio announcements, VirtuGuard™ can dispatch onsite Security Officers and local law enforcement to the scene. Virtual Agents can review both recorded video and live stream footage of an incident to gather valuable information and report it to the responding parties.
Agents can gather descriptions of the exact location of the event, physical descriptions of the individuals involved, and descriptions of relevant vehicles, including the physical description and license plate numbers. Providing this information to responding officers can better prepare them to approach a potentially volatile situation. Having details of an incident before arriving allows officers to better anticipate the incident they are responding to and more safely de-escalate.
Incident Investigation with VirtuGuard™
While the proposed ordinance for Atlanta gas stations and convenience stores requires surveillance cameras to have the capability to record and retrieve video footage, VirtuGuard™ can make this process quicker and more efficient.
Rather than convenience store staff or police officers having to comb through footage to locate the incident, VirtuGuard™ can find the recorded video footage, from all relevant cameras, and provide it to police.
Additionally, VirtuGuard™ creates a detailed incident report for each event. The reports give a detailed description of events and the individuals and vehicles involved, including video and photo evidence.
Improve the Function of Security Cameras with VirtuGuard™ Remote Video Monitoring
While the proposed ordinance that would require gas stations and convenience stores to install surveillance cameras seeks to decrease and deter crime, cameras are not truly effective alone. Adding remote video monitoring to existing security cameras allows skilled security professionals to monitor and react to incidents in near real time.
With threats or allusions to violent crime, time is of the essence. VirtuGuard™ can ensure a swift response to suspicious or escalating behavior to create more positive shopping experiences for all customers and reduce the strain on service requests from police.
Learn more about VirtuGuard™ for gas stations and convenience stores by visiting our website and completing the contact form below to speak with a VirtuGuard™ representative.