Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

Local News

April 29, 2012

State presses Village Pantry to increase safety

Clerk David Kelly was shot in the face at the West Lincoln Road Village Pantry store March 26, and no one is really sure why.

Kokomo police say Kelly didn’t resist.

But it was also the 22nd armed robbery of a Kokomo Village Pantry store since the beginning of 2009, and there’s almost a sense of resignation around law enforcement that something like this was bound to happen.

“It’s easy to go into a Village Pantry, get $50 and be gone,” said Capt. Teresa Galloway, head of the KPD’s criminal investigation section. “You can time it between 3 and 4 in the morning, when no one else is there. If you go to a pharmacy, it will be the clerk and at least one other person. You know you’re going to run into more people there.”

Village Pantry, part of the VPS Convenience Store Group based in North Carolina, runs more than 130 stores in Indiana, including nine in the Kokomo area.

The VP stores aren’t the only convenience stores in Kokomo, but they are easily the most robbed, particularly the stores at 1718 S. Home Ave., and the store where Kelly was shot, 1515 W. Lincoln Road.

Since the start of 2009, VP robberies have accounted for more than one-third of all the armed robberies of businesses in Kokomo, according to statistics compiled by the KPD.

The Home Avenue location has been robbed nine times in that period; the Lincoln Road store has been robbed seven times. Four other Kokomo VP stores have been robbed at least once during the same period.

CVS, which stocks narcotic drugs, is the only local business which comes close to having been robbed as often as the Village Pantry stores, with seven CVS robberies in that period.

Police are frustrated because despite the fact that convenience stores have trained their employees to frequently “drop” cash into a safe, bandits still hit the stores.

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