Insights

Guide to car wash, convenience store, and gas station security

January 4, 2023

Security cameras are a surprisingly recent addition to the security infrastructure of car washes, convenience stores, and gas stations. Twenty years ago, CCTV security cameras were not commonly found. In fact, it required police requests and, in some cases, city ordinances to convince companies to install cameras in their car wash, convenience store, and gas station businesses.

However, the risks experienced by these businesses have gotten more varied, and the expected losses greater. Now, every car wash, convenience store, and gas station needs cameras to protect their people, patrons, and profits. Once installed, it takes a complete video analytics solution to get the most value out of security cameras.

To see how Solink maximizes the value of the security cameras at your gas station, sign up for a demo today.

Want to learn more? Take a virtual tour.

Combination car wash, convenience store, and gas station businesses have become ubiquitous. Of course, self-serve car washes exist, while some gas stations have a simple kiosk or nothing else for sale, and even more lack a touchless car wash tunnel. However, it is increasingly common to see all three businesses on the same lot.

That being said, it is worthwhile looking at the risks faced by each business separately. Although there is clear overlap among the risks to car washes, convenience stores, and gas stations, they aren’t the same.

Car wash security risks

Car washes face several unique risks. The biggest risk that is somewhat unique to the car wash portion of these businesses is fraudulent insurance claims. Whether a separate self-serve car wash business or a touchless car wash tunnel next to a gas station, there is the risk that customers may claim their car was damaged by faulty or dangerous equipment. Having cameras able to get clear footage of vehicles before they enter your car wash can mitigate this risk by proving that any damage was preexisting.

Next, false alarms can be a common occurrence for car washes. During cold weather especially, animals sneak into car washes overnight. Unfortunately, this can trigger alarm systems and lead to police response. Most cities have implemented false alarm fines, which can become expensive when they occur nightly. Even worse, the police may stop responding after your car wash has multiple false alarms.

Finally, discount abuse is possible. Discount abuse is when employees or customers purposely misuse discounts to reduce the cost of items. Since car washes tend to operate with self-serve kiosks, it’s possible that customers may seek dishonest ways to reduce the price, for example using a discount code meant for first-time customers only during every visit.

Convenience store security risks

Convenience stores have a reputation as being hotspots for criminal activity. Unfortunately, this reputation has been well earned according to crime statistics. For example, it has been reported that 54% of shoplifters target convenience stores.

Robberies, employee theft (including discount abuse), and violent crimes are other common crimes that can occur in convenience stores.

Security-camera-cafe-checkout

In addition to crime, convenience store risks include customer and employee injuries. Unlike larger stores that have two sets of doors, convenience stores often have a shorter transition between outdoor and indoor climates. This can mean rainy or snowy conditions lead to slippery floors and fall hazards.

Finally, if your convenience stores sell alcohol, tobacco, or lottery tickets, then you are at risk of large fines if any of these restricted items are sold to minors. Solink allows you to use multiple filters to review these risky transactions.

For example, you can search for all transactions that include alcohol, and then narrow the search down to those where the employee pushed the “looks over 40” button instead of asking for ID. Then, you can quickly scan the faces of all patrons to make sure that they indeed appear over 40 years of age.

To see how Solink can protect you from costly fines, sign up for a demo today.

Gas station security risks

The most obvious gas station security risk is gas theft. With the surge in gas prices, the Ontario Convenience Store Association is reporting that gas theft is on the rise. This is a trend that is mirrored across much of North America. Along with driving away without paying anything, some criminals will commit other types of point of sale (POS) fraud, for example using a stolen credit card.

gas-pump-payment

Violence and car theft are also common occurrences at gas stations. When a person turns off their car to pump gas, professional car thieves might assault the patron and steal their vehicle.

Finally, gas station pumps are a notorious location for the installation of credit card skimmers. These are small devices that attach on top of the credit card slot on a gas station pump. The skimmer can then record all of the information stored on the magnetic strip of the credit card. Criminals can then use this information to steal the customer’s identity and/or use their credit card number in further fraudulent purchases.

What are the components of a security system for a gas station, convenience store, or car wash?

The security needs of gas stations, convenience stores, and car washes can only be met by an integrated security system. The following are the main components of a security system:

  • CCTV security cameras
  • Video data storage
  • Video analytics platform
  • Remote business monitoring
  • Access control
  • Video alarms

CCTV security cameras

It is surprising that not all gas stations, convenience stores, and car washes have CCTV security cameras today. In fact, in response to a violent event at a gas station in 2022 without security cameras, the City of Atlanta attempted to mandate security cameras at all gas stations, but it was deemed illegal to do so.

Security cameras are a great deterrent to crime. They are also the primary security infrastructure required to gather evidence if an incident does occur.

Video data storage

There are two basic types of video data storage, local and cloud video storage. Local storage is usually accomplished with a DVR (digital video recorder) or NVR (network video recorder). However, These are not the only local storage options.

Solink utilizes a network-attached storage (NAS) device to create a cloud-first video surveillance system. This is a hands-off video storage device that is installed onsite and then can be forgotten about since Solink fully warranties the NAS for the entire duration of the contract.

This cloud-first video surveillance system can be customized to the needs of your business with video retention periods of 30, 60, or 90 days, or even longer.

To see the difference cloud can make for your convenience store, sign up for a demo today.

Video analytics platform

Video analytics is critical in a modern car wash, convenience store, and gas station security system. CCTV security cameras provide a lot of data that can bring insights into every facet of your business. Collecting and storing but not putting into action that data can make every business decision harder. Here are just some of the ways Solink’s video analytics platform can help you with security and business intelligence applications.

Security related:

  • Match video clips to potentially suspicious transactions (voids, cash refunds, high discounts, zero-dollar transactions, etc.) by integrating camera with your POS data. Solink doesn’t require a text inserter box to do this.
  • Use motion search to see all activities in an area to quickly track down an event.
  • Use Solink’s Video Alarms feature to create time-based perimeter defenses, protecting your business when you aren’t there. This is possible both indoors and outdoors, making it a great addition to your gas station security system.
  • Be alerted when specific transactions, items, or criteria are met. You can now even set thresholds to be proactively alerted when key metrics are outside your comfort zone.
  • Receive a notification when individuals enter certain areas of your business.

Non-security related:

  • Audit your stores for regulatory and company policy compliance (e.g., make sure emergency exits are cleared and stores are clean).
  • Modify your store layout based on customer heat maps so merchandise is properly arranged to maximize sales.
  • Ensure customer service expectations are being met (e.g., reducing wait times in queue) by identifying retraining opportunities.
  • Document events such as slip-and-falls.
  • Ensure brand standards and cleanliness.
  • Determine your conversion rates with people counting technology.

To make sure you are always collecting this important data, Solink runs automated security camera health checks. In addition, Solink automatically updates all of the software on our systems.

Remote business monitoring

If your business is spread across multiple locations, then remote video monitoring is a necessary part of your car wash, convenience store, and gas station security system. Indeed, remote video surveillance goes beyond monitoring the security of multiple locations.

Being able to access the video and data feeds of all of your locations in one place means you can audit your locations for cleanliness, regulatory compliance, sales efficiency, and more.

How to perform remote video monitoring in 2022 - thumbnail

Sphinx does just that with the help of Solink. A single employee is able to ensure safety, security, cleanliness, and customer service standards are met at about 100 locations.

To see how Solink can help keep your convenience stores clean and safe, sign up for a demo today.

spinx-success-story-cta-banner

Access control

Access control systems allow organizations to monitor who is entering and leaving their premises as well as restrict access to authorized personnel only. Access control can be particularly difficult when parts of your business are 24/7 while others close at night.

Solink can help with video alarms (see below) by protecting your car wash while allowing your gas pumps to remain open for business.

Video alarms

Video alarms are a new way to protect your premises from burglars and other threats. Solink Video Alarms Monitoring Service utilizes your CCTV security cameras and advanced AI technology to operate as an alarm system.

In a recent comparison, Solink Video Alarms beat standard panel alarms in every category. Video alarms eliminated false alarm fines across eight locations, dispatched policy more quickly, and led to the arrest of several suspects.

Car washes often generate a lot of false alarms. Small animals sneak under the garage doors at night to escape the cold or rain and set off alarm sensors. Traditional alarms have no way to verify there is a true threat, leading to an unnecessary police dispatch request.

This can cause massive false alarm fines, if the police are dispatched at all. In fact, many police forces across North America no longer respond to unverified alarms. That could end up being even costlier if it means no response to a true threat in the future.

To see how Solink can cut down on false alarm fines at your car wash, sign up for a demo today.

What cameras should you use at car washes, convenience stores, and gas stations?

We summarize everything you need to know about security cameras elsewhere. Car washes, convenience stores, and gas stations are likely to install a mix of the following camera types:

  • Bullet cameras
  • Turret cameras
  • Dome cameras
  • 360 cameras

Bullet cameras are some of the most common security cameras on the market. Their small size and easy installation make them particularly versatile.

They can be used indoors and outdoors and are usually less noticeable than larger security cameras, such as turret cameras. However, their shape makes them less robust to vandalism than dome cameras (see below).

restaurant security cameras_bullet camera

Turret cameras

Turret security cameras have a ball-and-socket design. Within the “turret,” the ball-like camera can be positioned to look at different angles. This makes their installation and re-positioning flexible, but once installed, they need to be physically repositioned to get a new field of view.

restaurant security cameras_turret camera

Dome cameras are cameras covered with a dome. This has two benefits. First, it makes it difficult for someone to know what is within the camera’s frame. Second, the camera is protected from vandalism. However, dome cameras still have a fixed viewing angle that cannot be changed remotely.

restaurant security cameras_dome camera

360 cameras

Fisheye cameras, another name for 360 cameras, can be considered the next step in the evolution of business security cameras. They provide the user with a complete 360° by 180° view all of the time. This makes them great options for monitoring large open areas, such as the sales floor of a convenience store.

restaurant security cameras_360 camera

Using modern gaming technology, Solink stretches out the fisheye view of 360 cameras to give you an immersive look at what is happening at your site. Here’s the 360 camera at work within the Solink platform:

360-camera-solink-view

Want to learn more? Take a virtual tour.

Where should you place CCTV security cameras at your car washes, convenience stores, and gas stations?

When installing CCTV security cameras in your business, where they are installed is at least as important as what cameras are installed.

Gas station security cameras

First, it is important to have a wide view of your entire property. Installing turret cameras that can cover the entrances and exits of your gas station will make it easier to provide suspects’ license plate numbers if a robbery or carjacking occurs. It can also be used to establish whether car damage occurred on your premises or was preexisting.

gas-pump-payment-2

Each gas pump should be clearly visible on a dedicated security camera feed. Since modern gas pumps are also point of sale (POS) systems, this allows you to pair video with transaction data. It’ll also make it easier to see who installed a skimmer, and when, if one is found.

Convenience store security cameras

Convenience stores should have clear video coverage of the inside and outside of every entrance and exit. This includes the employee entrance and/or the garbage door. There should also be coverage of the entrance into the manager’s office, as well as the outside of doors to washrooms, whether those are in the store or through a separate entrance.

c-store-payment

The manager’s office is often where money is counted and the safe is placed. These should also be clearly visible. Either instruct employees to count money in a way that a single camera can see the count clearly, or consider installing more than one camera so employees cannot block the view.

Depending on the size of your convenience store, a single 360 camera may be able to cover the entire sales floor. If your convenience store has self-serve hot foods and/or coffee, then a camera covering that area can guard against shoplifting as well as reduce liability in case of an accident (e.g., customers burning themselves).

Again, the point of sale (POS) systems should be covered by dedicated cameras. Finally, if you sell expensive items that are at particularly high risk of theft such as alcohol, then consider positioning a dedicated camera so you can see the face of anyone accessing those goods.

Car wash security cameras

First, you should have cameras inside and outside of your car wash with a wide view of the entire area. Be sure to either install the cameras far away from the water and fans or purchase ones that can withstand those hurricane-like conditions.

Furthermore, adding low-angle cameras on both sides of the car entrance and exit can provide evidence that any damage on a car was preexisting. This will protect your car wash from potential fraudulent damage claims.

car-wash-exterior

Car wash, convenience store, and gas station security FAQ

Here are some frequently asked questions (FAQs) about car wash, convenience store, and gas station security systems.

Do gas stations have alarms?

Most gas stations and convenience stores have alarm systems.

Do gas stations have security cameras?

Gas stations have traditionally been slow to adopt the use of security cameras. However, many cities are encouraging gas stations to install security cameras and they have now become commonplace.

Why do gas stations have so many cameras?

Unfortunately, gas stations and convenience stores are hotspots for criminal activity including gas theft, shoplifting, robberies, and other violent crimes. For this reason, many gas stations have ample security camera coverage.

How long do gas station security cameras record?

The amount of video retention varies by gas station. Solink allows gas stations to retain 30, 60, or 90 days, or even longer, of video footage depending on the individual needs of the business.

Can gas stations release video footage?

Gas stations can release video footage. Solink makes it easy for companies to share video footage with law enforcement and other stakeholders by simply typing in an email address.

Do gas station cameras have audio?

Not all security cameras record audio as well. However, there are security cameras that record audio, which might be useful to gain insights into customer interactions.

What can convenience store owners do to protect themselves?

Convenience store owners are encouraged to install security cameras and enable cloud video security to better protect their patrons, people, and profits.

How effective are CCTV security cameras as a deterrent against retail theft and staff attack at convenience stores?

CCTV security cameras are a visible and effective deterrent against shoplifting and violent crimes in convenience stores. That’s because people are less likely to commit crimes when they think they will be caught. However, not all criminals will be deterred, so pairing security cameras with a video analytics platform will help resolve incidents when they do occur.

Can you use CCTV video footage as evidence?

Yes. Surveillance video footage is considered high-quality evidence. Solink allows companies to share video evidence with law enforcement using only an email address.

How does cloud video surveillance improve the security of convenience stores?

Cloud video surveillance makes it easy for companies to search through hours of video footage in minutes to uncover sources of loss, from shoplifting to employee theft. In fact, most companies find that cloud video surveillance pays for itself several times over.

Solink is the best security system for your car wash, gas station, and convenience store

Car washes, gas stations, and convenience stores face many threats. From shoplifting and violent crime to fraudulent car damage and slip-and-fall claims, a security camera system can help.

Solink helps to minimize the effects of all these threats by both deterring criminals and better resolving incidents. By pairing video with motion events and transactions at every POS, Solink can help you uncover the sources of loss in your business.

To see how Solink protects car washes, gas stations, and convenience stores, sign up for a demo today.

Learn how Solink improves the security of your self checkouts

Tim Ware headshot

Timothy Ware |

Timothy Ware is Solink’s Content Manager. He brings over ten years of writing and editing experience to the job. When he isn’t writing about security, loss prevention, and asset protection, he’s enjoying his newest board game. His work has appeared on many B2B SaaS websites including Baremetrics, Security Today, TeamPassword, Cova, and SignTime.