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State House bill seeks to protect late night gas station and convenience store workers

Morgue File

A Michigan lawmaker wants gas stations and convenience stores to improve security for late-night workers.

State Representative Collene Lamonte (D-Montague) announced today that she had introduced a bill to require gas stations and convenience stores operating between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. to schedule at least two people to work during those hours -- or to install and maintain security cameras.

Lamonte's  bill is inspired by the case of Jessica Heeringa. She is believed to have been abducted six months ago after working an overnight shift alone at a West Michigan gas station.

Lamonte said the gas station had no security cameras or witnesses to her disappearances.

"As the police have talked to me about this, they are really missing  having that kind of information to be able to follow up on leads, to go after certain vehicle descriptions or the description of a person that may have been involved, " she said.

Lamonte said her bill will help prevent crime and apprehend criminals. 

"We're looking out for worker safety and protection. We want to make sure that people that are out there working hard, working the third shift at night, late at night, that they have some sense of security and protections in place," she added.

Mark Griffin is president of the Michigan Petroleum Association and the Michigan Association of Convenience Stores. He said they look forward to studying the bill. 

But he said  individual businesses can devise more effective plans to protect protect workers and customers than government mandates.  He said studies show that cameras and the presence of two workers do not deter crime. 

Virginia Gordan, Michigan Radio Newsroom