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Inadequate Security Places Customers and Employees in Harm’s Way

caution-1189824Nobody visits a business or store expecting to be a victim of an assault, robbery, burglary, or rape by a third party criminal. The same goes for the employees who work at those businesses and stores. Unfortunately, sometimes these innocent bystanders are either directly targeted by criminals or indirectly injured while the criminal is in the process of committing a crime.

Inadequate security can cause problems that result in significant consequences, including life-altering injuries or even death. Recently, WREG News Channel 3 in Memphis investigated allegations that certain Memphis gas stations and convenient stores may be providing inadequate security for employees and customers on their premises. Inadequate security is an area of the law that can hold a property owner or manager partially or fully responsible when a person is injured by a criminal on the premises.

The WREG investigation looked into criminal activity occurring at Memphis discount and convenient stores such as Dollar General, Dollar Tree, and Family Dollar. Many of these stores are located in low income communities or high crime areas. Between 2014 and 2016, these stores accounted for more than 5,000 calls to police for incidents like disturbances, shoplifting, aggravated assault, car theft, and robbery. One representative of the Memphis Police Department described convenient store crime as being on the “forefront” when it comes to business robberies. To prevent crime, stores may choose to hire security guards or install lighting and cameras, which can deter criminals from entering the property in the first place.

Customers and employees of these stores were interviewed as part of the investigation. One employee described waiting in line at 9:00 one morning to check out when a thief pulled out a gun and robbed the cash register. One cashier, who happened to be pregnant, was employed for only two weeks and had already been held up at gunpoint twice, which prompted her to leave the job. An assistant manager at another store said thieves locked him in the supply room while they stole hundreds of dollars worth of merchandise and fled the scene. Incidents like this occur almost daily at stores throughout Memphis and across Tennessee.

While a business is not always expected to be able to guarantee complete safety to all persons on the premises at all times, the law does require them to take appropriate action in certain circumstances. Many times, business owners know their surroundings better than anyone else and are aware of crimes that occur on their premises or in the surrounding neighborhood. In Tennessee, business owners can be required to take reasonable steps to protect their customers from foreseeable third party criminal acts that occur on their property, including shopping centers and apartment complexes.

Premises liability and inadequate security cases in Memphis always center on the specific facts surrounding the incident. Important facts would be the type of crime that injured the victim (i.e. assault, rape, murder), whether similar acts had occurred on the property before, and what type of notice the property owner had of dangerous conditions. Many times, expert testimony is needed to prove that a property owner or manager acted unreasonably by failing to enact proper security measures such as hiring security guards, installing proper lighting, or maintaining an existing security system. To discuss your case with a Tennessee inadequate security attorney, call the lawyers at Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004 today.