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Lilburn officer explains why gas stations are targets for crime

Law enforcement agencies across the metro have had to investigate multiple shootings at gas stations lately.

LILBURN, Ga. — The recent string of shootings at gas stations and convenience stores across the metro prompted the Lilburn Police Department to post a series of safety tips on Facebook for the public. The post explains why gas stations are easy targets for criminals and what people can do to stay safe. 

"I've noticed that especially in Atlanta, DeKalb County and surrounding areas in Gwinnett County, that it's a crime that can happen anywhere. These are crimes of opportunity," Cpl. Mike Johnson said.

Law enforcement agencies across the metro have had to investigate multiple shootings at gas stations lately. This includes a shooting early Sunday that left eight people injured. 

Additionally, DeKalb County Police have been investigating a shooting that stemmed from a man attempting to break up a fight at a Chevron gas station.

Johnson explained gas stations are easy for criminals to target because people frequent them and it's easy for someone to be the victim of a crime because it's easy to be distracted. 

He said typically someone's back is turned when they are pumping gas or putting air in their tires. Additionally, columns and gas pumps act as barriers and make it harder for a person to see what is happening around them. 

"If a predator was going to look for his victim or their victim, they would be looking for somebody that would would be oblivious to what's really going on," he said.

Local governments have been working on proposals that would address crimes on these businesses. The Atlanta City Council discussed the possibility of mandating new businesses have security systems that are integrated into the Atlanta Police Department's system. 

The council recently learned state law would prohibit this because it could present an additional burden on businesses. Atlanta City Councilmember Antonio Lewis said he's proposing a solution that would create incentives for businesses and let the public know cameras are watching.  

"You place a green light, which means that your gas station cameras tap into the police cams that will make people feel safer," Lewis said.

DeKalb County could decide to pass an ordinance next month that would make cameras mandatory at high-risk businesses. 

While waiting for these measures to pass, Johnson said it's important people remain vigilant and remain aware of their surroundings.

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