Plain Dealer writes on fatal crimes of convenience

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is reporting on the dangers of working in a convenience store, but has neglected any mention of how "no-guns" signs are proving to be of no help in stopping these crimes. Nor does the newspaper spend any time examining how they may be contributing to endangering these store owners by publishing their names if they chose to obtain a CHL, as Bill Singleton did.

From the story:

    Fethik "Tony" Belhouane might be safer on the job if he were a police officer or firefighter. As the manager of a corner grocery, he faces danger every time the door swings open.

    Usually, the feet that step onto the parquet floor in Tony's Deli belong to a child with a sweet tooth and a couple of quarters in his pocket. Or it's a neighborhood regular stopping in for a cold drink and a pack of smokes.

    But all it takes is one visitor with a gun who wants something else to change the odds on whether Belhouane will return to his wife and two toddlers at the end of a long day. Belhouane learned the hard way, when he narrowly escaped the fate of two people murdered in December at his Scranton Road store.

    "I'm always on guard," Belhouane said. "It's a very hard job and very dangerous."

    Last week, a robbery at another West Side store named Tony's Deli ended in the fatal shooting of its owner. It was a reminder of just how dangerous the job can be.

    Antonios "Tony" Elbkessini, 48, was the fourth worker or customer killed in a convenience store robbery in Cleveland in six months.

The Plain Dealer story notes that convenience store robberies are a longstanding problem in urban areas across the country, making up 6.2 percent of all robberies in 2003, the most recent FBI data show.

    Of the 632 on-the-job fatalities due to homicides in 2003, more than one in 10 occurred in convenience stores or gas stations with convenience stores, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.

    The 65 convenience store workers compared with 52 law enforcement officers who died in assaults that year.

    The robberies, and murders that often accompany them, are crimes of opportunity. Of convenience.

The Plain Dealer states that many shopkeepers have learned the risk to their lives is part of the package.

Click on the "Read More..." link below for more.

Faye and Mike Hage, who are from Lebanon, admitted in the story to a keen awareness of the danger they face, especially since a customer they recognized robbed them at gunpoint three years ago.

    Mike worries about Faye, whom he no longer allows to stay late at the store. Faye worries about the safety of the children who stream into the store to buy chips and pop. It is strange faces from outside the neighborhood that make her heart beat a little faster, she said.
    "I'm not going to lie," she said. "If somebody comes in from out of the area, that's scary."

    But with another daughter facing college, Mike slides behind the counter each day and puts his faith in God and the good neighbors who surround them. It was the neighbors who helped police get the bad guy, he said.

According to the Plain Dealer, nine people have died since 2000, including one customer and one suspect. In the same 15-year plus span, the paper says, five police officers were killed.

    The danger inherent in the job at a corner store is not news to those who spend seven days behind the counter, uncertain of what each beep of the alert on the door will bring - to them or to their families. Belhouane said his wife pleaded for him to find another line of work after the December attack.

    "We came from overseas to have a better life," Belhouane said. "But we don't want to die."

    Craig Tame, the city's chief of health and public safety, said city law enforcement officials will address the latest store murders in a meeting Wednesday with Cleveland's Arab-American leaders and shopkeepers.

    Tame said they will explore crime prevention measures and ways to pay for them. Many of the strategies are common sense and increasingly common - bullet-resistant enclosures, security cameras, improved lighting and more visibility of cash registers from outside the store.

How embarrassing - the best the city can come up with are things that often do nothing to stop these types of attacks. How embarrassing that there is no talk on this "public safety" committee of an option that has already proven to offer protection and stop these attacks - the Ohio Concealed Handgun License.

How many more tragedies will it take for these people to realize that there is a difference between feeling safe and being safe?

Help us fight for your rights!

Become a member of Buckeye Firearms Association and support our grassroots efforts to defend and advance YOUR RIGHTS!

Subscribe to our FREE Newsletter

Get weekly news and instant alerts on the latest laws and politics that affect your gun rights. Enjoy cutting-edge commentary. Be among the first to hear about gun raffles, firearms training, and special events. Read more.

We respect your privacy and your email address will be kept confidential.


Buckeye Firearms Association is a grassroots organization dedicated to defending and advancing the right of citizens to own and use firearms for all legal activities, including self-defense, hunting, competition, and recreation. Read more.