Greenville County, S.C., is being hit by an unusual series of serious crimes in and around grocery stores, the Greenville News reports. The cases have been both random and calculated, occurring in the middle of the morning and in the middle of the night. The victims have ranged from elderly women to a middle-aged man. The incidents include a stabbing and two shootings inside stores and a stabbing and purse-snatching outside.
Despite the string of serious cases, there have been fewer crimes overall in area grocery stores.
Still, Ted Pittman, whose 71-year-old mother, Connie, was stabbed several times with a Bowie knife at one store’s parking lot, would like more security. “I just feel like they’ve got to make the people who shop in their stores more secure all the way to their cars,” said Pittman, whose mother has recovered. “It doesn’t need to be an elderly security guard. It needs to be either off-duty police officers or someone in law enforcement.”
Jim Hatchell of the South Carolina Merchants Association says the incidents pose a dilemma for stores, which want to give customers a safe shopping experience without hassle. Hatchell said there one proposal would give tax credits for retail locations that use metal detectors, but that is such a frustrating practice it would probably not be practical. Stores are hesitant to staff their locations with uniformed guards because it sends a message that’s contrary to the one stores are trying to deliver.
The fact that grocery stores are typically crowded means they are not regular targets for violent crimes, said Larry Gaines, a criminal justice professor at California State University-San Bernadino. “It’s very unusual for any city to have that many violent crimes at grocery stores,” he said.