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7-Eleven beefs up lights, cameras

July 23, 1997

By KERRY LYNN FRALEY

Staff Writer

Brian Hamberger already had a surveillance system in his Potomac Avenue 7-Eleven store when The Southland Corporation installed a new high-tech system about two years ago.

Instead of scrapping his cruder black-and-white system, Hamberger said he decided to use it to expand video coverage to other areas of his store.

It has helped him catch a few shoplifters, he said.

But that's just a bonus on top of the deterrent and security benefits provided by the newer surveillance and alarm system, which gives employees a one-touch link to police agencies and provides a record of activity in the store, Hamberger said.

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Hamberger isn't alone in lauding the newer system, which was installed in all 7-Eleven stores as part of a corporate-funded remodeling effort, said Margaret Chabris, public relations manager for Southland 7-Eleven stores.

The three-year, nationwide effort to standardize stores and make them safer and more shopper-friendly was completed earlier this year, Chabris said.

Installing the security systems, which include a 24-hour, closed-circuit TV system with audio monitoring, high-resolution video recording and an alarm system with stationary and remote panic buttons, accounted for a significant portion of the multi-million dollar investment, she said.

The remodeled stores also feature brighter lighting inside and out, consistent signs, new display and dispensing equipment, wider aisles, aisle markers and lower, less cluttered shelves, Chabris said.

Overall, response from franchisees, store managers and police agencies has been positive, she said.

Donnie Clipp didn't have a surveillance system in his Salem Avenue 7-Eleven until the store was remodeled about a year ago.

Clipp said he sees it mainly as a deterrent to potential robbers, but it has aided him in catching shoplifters.

"I think it's wonderful," said Clipp, who has had the store for 19 years.

Improved lighting, including security lights on the side of the store and pole lights near the street, has made people feel safer about shopping at his store at night, he said.

The remodeling has increased traffic and sales at the 7-Eleven on U.S. 11 in Falling Waters, W.Va., said manager Brenda Smith.

She said customers have commented on the openness, better lighting and ease of finding items.

Employees seem to feel safer with the new security system, said Smith, who thinks it has helped prevent both robberies and shoplifting.

Seeing themselves on the monitor and knowing how effective video has proven in catching criminals, potential robbers probably think twice about hitting the store, she said.

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