Edmonton business owner recommends tougher security measures following Mac's robbery

Monday’s violent armed robbery at an Edmonton Mac’s store stirred up some chilling memories for Lawrence Brendel. In 2003, his Forest of Jewels store in Riverbend, was also held up by gunmen.

‘You’re a sitting duck. You’ve got to do what you can do.’

Lawrence Brendel (Peter Evans CBC)

Monday's violent armed robbery at an Edmonton Mac's store stirred up some chilling memories for Lawrence Brendel.

In 2003, his Forest of Jewels business in Riverbend, was also held up by gunmen.

"It was an armed robbery and we pretty much got cleaned out. There was a hostage situation it wasn't a good day." said Brendel, who wasn't there at the time, but was told by his staff about the terrifying incident.

While no shots were fired and there were no serious physical injuries, the emotional scars have been lasting.

Since that day, Brendel's been acutely aware of the security measures business owners can take to try to prevent robberies.

"You're a sitting duck here, you've got to do what you can do." said Brendel. His store now has a locked front entrance that requires people to be buzzed in. Brendel believes the system could easily be adopted by convenience stores during late night hours as it is in other cities in Canada. 

Front door buzzer at Forest of Jewels

"Why not, I love it. You're slowing people down, you're making people think. I think it would be a good feature."  explained Brendel, who said the buzzer allows him and his staff to assess who is coming into the store.

When people enter, they then have to ring a bell in an entrance area before being allowed into the store.

"It always alerts us when somebody is in the store. Nobody can just kind of sneak in the store and it slows people from getting out of the store." he said, making the point it's not an expensive feature to add. 

The provincial government said any and all ideas to make Alberta businesses safer are on the table.

Labour Minister Christina Gray said changes will be considered following Monday's robbery in which an employee was hurt, in addition to the shooting deaths of two clerks at other Mac's stores in Edmonton last December.

"There are many different opinions on what could happen here. Right now we're interested in talking to the employees, starting some of those conversations and from that hopefully we can make some smart evidence based decisions." said Gray.

Those conversations will happen with Alberta Occupational Health and Safety staff, who will be visiting businesses such as convenience stores, gas stations, and others where people work alone.

The front door buzzer system is one of many security features Brendel has implemented at Forest of Jewels.

He can also watch what's happening on the store's many surveillance cameras at any time through an app on his phone.

Lawrence Brendel monitors security cameras from his phone

There are storefront bars to prevent stolen vehicles ramming into the store. He's also added mesh grills into the walls to try to stop people digging their way in.

And the jewelry on display is protected by high security glass.

After being robbed once, Brendel feels he's done as much as he can to prevent it happening again.

"I can sleep at night I know everything I've done is secure."

Minister Gray isn't putting any timelines on the government's work. She said protections for people in vulnerable workplaces is an issue ignored for years by the previous government.

Gray said the current government wants to identify long term changes to improve worker safety that will work for both businesses and workers.