In recent weeks, a rash of violent crimes have occurred in and around gas stations and convenient stores. This is not just some new trend happening that criminals have figured out. However, these crimes are increasing and becoming more violent every day. There are multiple things that you can do to make your trip to the pump safer.
First, some facts: 2020 FBI statistics reveal that violent crimes at gas stations account for 3% of all assaults and land the category at No. 4 on its list for locations. Crimes that occur at convenient stores account for 2% of all assaults and are at No. 7. Most recently in Gwinnett, on July 10th, 2022, beloved teacher and coach Bradley Coleman was senselessly gunned down in a QT parking lot during an attempted carjacking while filling his tires with air.
What makes these areas so attractive for crime?
Think about if we were out in the wild.
Would a predator want to expel its energy hunting in the open chasing down its prey? Or would you rather want to lay low and wait for your prey at a watering hole where you could pick and choose your next victim with precision, prowess, ease and certain victory? Gas stations are like a community’s watering hole. Everyone has to go to them eventually. They are a target-rich environment where people are concentrated on getting the best price, often times not paying attention, talking on the phone and carrying cash for their purchases.
Gas stations have ambush points like the gas pumps and brick pillars that block an attacker’s intentions. An attack can happen in seconds when a victim is chosen. Many times, an individual can sneak up alongside a vehicle on the opposite side of the pump and gain entry inside without the owner knowing. Moreover, an attack can happen from the opposite side of the pump when someone is filling up.
It's important to remember to practice situational awareness when approaching any gas station. Circle around first and look for cars backed in with people watching. Don’t proceed until you feel the area is safe. Report any suspicious activity. What does the lighting look like? Can the attendant see you? Are there surveillance cameras that can see you? After exiting your vehicle, have you locked your car or truck? Do you have the ignition keys in your hand? Is your child in the vehicle?
Have a plan for every step of your transaction. Get in and get out. Move with a purpose. Use reflections of the car windows when filling up to observe any threats approaching from either side. Make eye contact with those around you and let them know you see them. Have your “head on a swivel.” Look for potential threats in every direction for 360 degrees. This alone can reduce the opportunity for a crime to occur.
If someone approaches and is attempting to get your vehicle, let them take it. It’s not worth your life to resist. They will get caught! Toss the keys in the opposite direction you plan to escape. Scream to attract witnesses. Try to remember any identifying descriptors about the attackers. Remember tag numbers to any vehicles leaving and their direction of travel. Remember, predators work in pairs. Report the crime immediately to 911.
The Lilburn Police Department and all the surrounding police agencies in Gwinnett County want you to remain vigilant and safe when you are out and about. Report suspicious activity to business management and 911.
Don’t become the hunted!