A major association of convenience store operators in the late-night retail
industry has agreed to participate in the Indiana Department of Labor’s
INSafe program to reduce late-night retail workplace violence.
Joining in the agreement are the Department of Labor (DOL) and the Indiana
Petroleum Marketers and Convenience Store Association (IPCA).
Goals of the agreement:
•DOL will provide expertise in developing information on the recognition and
prevention of workplace hazards, and provide expertise in developing ways of
communicating such information to the IPCA and its members. DOL will speak,
exhibit, or appear at IPCA conferences, meetings and major industry trade
shows as available and requested.
•The DOL will share information and statistics, as determined to be
appropriate by the Director of INSafe, to advance the goal of providing more
relevant information and reducing injuries, illnesses and fatalities in the
workplace (e.g., sharing fatality/injury and illness data which are
generally unavailable to the public; these statistics may provide the basis
for future prevention-based research).
•INSafe will consult with select member companies of the IPCA to assist with
the development and delivery of group-wide occupational safety and health
outreach and training programs.
•IPCA will share information with DOL personnel and industry safety and
health professionals regarding IPCA best practices or effective approaches
and publicize results through outreach by IPCA and through DOL events, print
media, and websites.
•IPCA will promote and encourage member company participation in INSafe
programs such as the OSHA Consultation Program and its INSHARP Program.
•INSafe will also provide strategic industrial hygiene and safety assistance
to IPCA and its participants upon request. This work will be used to develop
a common exposure picture for similar work application with member
This agreement is the result of DOL Commissioner Lori Torres’s efforts to
bring all interested parties together as the Late Night Retail Working Group
to address repeated violent injuries and fatalities at convenience stores
throughout the state.
The working group, founded by DOL with the participation of IPCA, the
Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association, the Indiana Association
of Beverage Retailers, and the Indiana State Police, is currently producing
a report that will summarize the working group’s findings and
recommendations for store owners in Indiana. This report, set to be released
in May, will document the best available research on late-night retail
safety and security, and review various legislative and voluntary actions
across the country to be models for stores in Indiana.
The group also includes a representative from the families and victims of
recent late-night retail workplace violence.
DOL, Indiana Grocery and Convenience Store Association, and Indiana
Association of Beverage Retailers are also discussing possible partnership
More information about this alliance, including the agreement that was
signed March 28, can be found at www.in.gov/dol/2387.htm
Over the last 13 years, two clerks working late-night shifts—both of them at
Luke Oil stores—have been murdered on the job in Duneland.
On Aug. 10, 1999, Chesterton High School graduate Kathryn Pokorny, 18, was
shot and killed at the old Luke Oil store at the southwest corner of the
intersection of U.S. Highway 6 and Meridian Road in Liberty Township. She
was working alone at the time. Three months later, in November 1999, Region
Deon Slater was charged with her murder, criminal deviate conduct, and
robbery. In 2001, Slater pleaded guilty to all charges in exchange for the
state’s withdrawing its request for the death penalty. Slater was sentenced
to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Several years later
that Luke Oil store was demolished and the site remains vacant.
On Dec. 19, 2008, Barbara Heckman, 42, was bludgeoned to death with a mini
sledge hammer at the Luke Oil store at the northeast corner of U.S. 6 and
Meridian Road. She too was working alone. Twelve hours later, Bruce Guess,
18, and Steven Jorden, 19, both of Liberty Township, had been taken into
custody. Guess—who admitted being the one who actually struck Heckman with
the sledge hammer in the course of a robbery—was sentenced to 85 years, the
maximum term possible. Jorden was sentenced to 57 years, eight years shy of
the maximum possible.
Two months after Pokorny’s murder, the Porter County Sheriff’s Police
announced that it was extending what it called a “survivability seminar”
originally designed for banks in unincorporated county to convenience
stores. Dave Lain—now Sheriff, then Porter County Deputy Chief—noted at the
time of the announcement that, “like banks, convenience stores have their
own set of risks. It’s an inherently riskier set of risks than (those of
Among other things, convenience stories usually employ no more than two
clerks—or only one—per shift. They also operate late into the night or all
night and are often located at remote or isolated sites and by their nature
are quick to enter and exit. And they are ready sources of cash.