Desperate Times Leading To More Crimes
Our nation is going through bad economic times, and certain parts of the country have been hit harder than others. The housing market is at it’s lowest ever, and the unemployment rate is over nine percent nationwide—in some areas more than fourteen percent. Some argue that those with any type of job are lucky to be employed. Even with unemployment benefits, some families have to juggle bills to ensure the utilities stay on, and many are selling their belongings to raise funds.
This situation is only likely to get worse. So far in the “recovery,” job growth has been concentrated in lower wage jobs with minimal growth in middle-income wages, as many higher paying jobs have gone overseas. Unemployment benefits have expired for a considerable number of people and the only solution for them is to obtain government support through the food stamps program. According to government data, there are now almost 46 million people in the country on food stamps—roughly fifteen percent of the population—a big increase since 2007, just before the financial crisis and deep recession led to mass job losses.
In low income areas and tough neighborhoods this situation can lead to other problems, such as angry guests, shoplifting, abuse of the system, increased number of robberies, and most important, flash mobs entering stores and walking away with lots of merchandise. It has happened in some parts of the country to different types of retailers—teens organized via cell phones, texting, or social media to target a particular store, then entered the store during the late night hours and stole as much merchandise as they could carry. Several 7-Eleven stores have been hit by flash mobs—or “flash robs,” as law enforcement officials are calling the crime—in the last few weeks. We are particularly susceptible to this crime because we operate 24 hours day.
Robberies have increased in my area during the last few months. These trends may go up, as there is no financial relief in sight for our nation’s economy. As franchisees we have to be more vigilant than ever to prevent these crimes in our stores. We must work closely with local law enforcement and the SEI team to keep these bad elements away. We must also make sure our sales associates go through the proper safety programs, that our security systems are in working order, and that all safety-related signs are placed. All loss prevention related signs could now be ordered by creating a case online.