The city of Mesquite is considering temporarily stopping new convenience stores from opening in the city in an effort to curb a rise in crime.
Tuesday marked the beginning of the effort to impose a 90-day moratorium on new convenience stores, in order to consider regulations for new and some existing stores throughout the city.
Despite the dangers that often come with working at convenience stores, Elhaj Essalhi said he felt safe at work,
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“Very safe because we have glasses, some cameras,” he said. “Sixteen cameras.”
About the only crime at KP Food Mart recently were teens trying to take candy, chips and drinks about two weeks ago, he said.
The check cashing, mini-mart’s security system is likely the kind of stepped-up security the city wants to see more of.
“We’ve had a lot of aggravated robberies in the past few months, basically at convenience stores,” Mesquite City Manager Cliff Keheley said. “Some of the more well-known incidents of crime have happened at convenience stores in neighborhoods, which concerns residents.”
The spike in crime led city staff and Mesquite police to seek a 90-day moratorium on new stores, Keheley said.
“It allows us to basically to press pause on development on convenience stores,” he said.
There were 47 convenience store robberies in 2019, down from 56 in 2018, according to the Mesquite Police Department. However, the 47 robberies accounted for 19% of all robberies that year.
In turn, that would give the city time to consider regulations for new, and some existing, convenient stores.
“From cameras, to visibility of windows to maybe some design features to allow better visibility from the street for police officers,” Keheley said.
Existing convenience stores may have to add new security measures should new regulations be approved.
The city stressed it was not targeting convenience stores unfairly.
“We’re not trying to reduce the number of convenience stores or stop them from developing in town, we just want them to develop in a manner that has some safety regulations,” Keheley said.
Essalhi said he welcomed tougher regulations to ensure workers like him remain safe on the job.
But just in case crime creeps into his store, Essalhi said he’s ready.
“I have my handgun always on me,” he said. “I have a license too.”
Tuesday’s 7 p.m. city council meeting will only consider whether to move forward with public hearings on the issue.
If approved, the first public hearing would take place next Tuesday evening. A final vote would then take place Feb. 3.