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Shooting at Atlanta QT Gas Stations Raises Question About What Owners Knew About Crime on Their Property

Imagine stopping at a gas station to check your tire pressure only to have a stranger leap out of his car and reach into your vehicle to steal valuable personal items. That’s what happened to a couple at the QT gas station on Howell Mill Road just after dark on February 13. In this case a couple had stopped to put air in their tires, and the assailant stole the woman’s purse. When the man gave chase, the thief shot him.

While the shooter bears responsibility for the crime, there’s some question regarding why he chose this particular gas station to commit this violent act. It’s a fact that some gas stations are safer than others, and it’s well-established what sets safer locations apart. Atlanta attorney Chuck Clay says, “Safe properties have good lighting. They have visible security cameras, they are proactive about collaborating with the local police, and they report suspicious people and enforce their ‘no loitering’ policies.”

Chuck explains that some gas station employees and managers may be aware that criminals have targeted their property to commit crimes. If property owners fail to report the activity and to take reasonable measures to deter criminals from operating on their property, then they can be legally liable for crimes committed on their premises.

Not long ago, Chuck Clay and Bradley Pratt of Pratt Clay, LLC won a $2,250,000 settlement for a woman who was shot and seriously injured in a similar snatch-and-grab robbery at an Atlanta area gas station. During litigation, it became clear that employees at the gas station knew the property was a target for criminals, yet they made no efforts to protect their patrons. Since the settlement, the gas station has made a number of changes, including improving their lighting, updating their security cameras, painting over gang graffiti, enforcing loitering policies, and repairing holes in fences that had allowed criminals a quick escape.

While police can investigate violent crimes and catch criminals after the fact, there is only so much law enforcement can do to prevent violent crimes. Property owners, on the other hand, are in a position to make simple changes that can make their premises less attractive to criminals. Chuck explains that it’s up to the victims of violent crimes to stand up for themselves and use the civil justice system to hold negligent property owners accountable and force them to make changes. In this way we can help Make Atlanta Safe, one property at a time.

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