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‘Small business owners are feeling insecure’: Shalimar Convenience owner
If Imran Dar could talk to the people who robbed his Forest Road store, he would tell them there are other ways to make money.
“This may be for the moment easy for you, but it’s difficult in the long run,” he said he would tell them.
Shalimar Convenience has been subject to two armed robberies in the past five years; first in 2014 when the perpetrator used a knife, and again in 2018 when a clerk was sprayed in the eyes with what was believed to be bear spray.
Wednesday evening there was another alleged attempted armed robbery. This time the perpetrator left empty-handed, but Imran said the event still had a “negative” impact on employees.
Imran’s son, Irtiza Dar, was working alone Wednesday evening when it happened.
Surveillance footage marks the time a masked man entered the store: 10:13 p.m.
“At first I thought it was a customer, so I said, ‘Hey, how’s it going?’ He was like, ‘I want some cigarettes -- Export A,’” recalled Irtiza.
It was then he noticed the man was wearing a ski mask, or something similar, over his face.
“To scare me, he had some sort of steel bar or something -- I don’t know what it was exactly. It was like a metal rod.”
Irtiza said the man held it inside a plastic bag, opening the bag briefly to show him the weapon.
“He wasn’t very confident. He was kind of shaky when he came in. I feel like maybe he was doing it for the first time — trying to rob a store.”
Luckily, he said the man wanted three cartons of a specific kind of Export A cigarettes which they don’t keep in stock at the store. He told the man he needed to go to a back room to get them. He said that gave him an opportunity to lock the door and call police.
On the surveillance video, the man can be seen hesitating for a moment, and then he leaves.
According to the time on the surveillance footage, police arrived by 10:19 p.m.
Irtiza describes the alleged perpetrator as skinny, probably in his mid-20s, and about 6’ tall.
Irtiza said he wasn’t scared for himself, but he worried what the man might do to the store.
“I felt like I didn’t want him to cause any damage or anything. I was kind of worried; when someone like that comes in, you never know what they might do.”
Imran said these kinds of incidents make small business owners feel insecure.
He said it’s already tough to run the convenience store, then if someone steals one package of cigarettes, for example, he has to sell 10 packages to recoup the loss.
Robberies decreasing on Northeast Avalon
In 2016 on the Northeast Avalon, there were 21 robberies with firearms and 83 robberies with other offensive weapons, according to the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary’s (RNC) 2017 annual juristat report.
By 2017, those numbers decreased to 14 with firearms and 66 with other offensive weapons.
The report also lists ‘other’ robberies, citing 69 in 2016, and 42 in 2017.
RNC spokesperson Cst. James Cadigan said the number of robberies are also down this year compared to last year, though he could not provide confirmed numbers.
“It is certainly to be considered that CCTV technology, along with steps that are taken by businesses to deter these incidents, play a role in the decreased numbers.”
Cadigan specifically mentioned locked door buzz systems as another measure to protect employees and businesses.
As for Dar, he said he believes customers won’t feel welcome at his store with the doors locked.
“A door should be open to welcome customers,” he said.
“I don’t believe in this iron bars and stuff.”
He said he takes other safety measures, such as keeping only minimum cash levels on hand, and using security cameras.