Couche-Tard's Mac's Addresses Robbery Issues

Meets with community police to develop safety, deterrent plans

THUNDER BAY, Ontario -- Officials with Mac’s Convenience Stores and city police have teamed up to make a plan on how to prevent robberies from happening at stores across Thunder Bay, Ontario, according to a report in TB News Watch.

Security managers for the convenience store chain, owned by Alimentation Couche-Tard, Laval, Quebec, met with Thunder Bay Police Service officers this past week to plan how they can prevent these kinds of robberies from happening. The two-day planning sessions offered ideas that vary from potential barriers between store employees and customers to a buzzer system.

Sean Sportun, manager of security and loss prevention for Mac’s, said the chain is doing everything it can to make sure employees and customers remain safe.

“We had some pretty productive meetings yesterday as well as this morning,” Sportum told the news outlet. “We’ve taken immediate steps to remove signage from our windows. We’ve looked at where we could put a fence in, as well as improved lighting, put in additional cameras or what not."

There have been 23 robberies of Mac's Marts this year, and 13 since Sept. 1, according to TB News Watch.

“We have given a list to our maintenance team back in Toronto, and they are actively working on those fixes immediately. I should say they should be installed by early next week depending if we can get the construction vendors out here.”

While some security changes will be immediate, he said bigger plans will still need to take time in order to test to make sure they work, but he expected everything to be in place sometime in November.

He said he’s going back to Toronto to talk to the store executives and see if any of the strategies suggested during the meeting would work. Any time that a store is robbed, it’s a concern for the company, but the root causes for those crimes are usually social, he said.

“In the past, Thunder Bay has had its challenges with robberies, and it seems to be certain times of the year that it peaks and then it falls off,” he said. “Looking at statistical information provided by Thunder Bay police, in 2010 there were about 170 [robberies] of which only 5% were related to Mac’s. I know we are front and center on this issue. The overall issue of robbery isn’t going to be solved by Mac’s. It’s a social issue.”

Detective Inspector Phil Levesque said the Mac’s staff was receptive of his and the police staff’s suggestions and would be considering suggestions Thunder Bay police made.

He said the safety of the public and the clerks were of the highest priority.

“They have to have some barrier or protection to stop these people from advancing in the stores,” Levesque said. “This is a cooperative effort. We make the suggestions based on experience and professional training. We’ll see how seriously they take them.”