Robbery Prevention

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Every business has the potential for being victimized by a robber. You need to review the tips listed below and apply them to your business.

  • Use at least two people to open and close your business. Send one out separate from the other. The first person out should ensure that it is safe to come out. If you both walk out at once, one gunman can control you both.
  • Keep cash on premises to a minimum and never count it in public view. This should go without saying. Don't advertise your daily success.
  • Advertise outside that you keep a minimal amount of cash in the register and that you will not accept large bills. Make it seem like it's not worth the trouble to rob you. If you flash your cash around, this sign won't help.
  • Use a safe that the clerk cannot open alone or that requires two keys. Post that fact conspicuously, including on the safe itself. Don't forget to bolt it to the floor. While you may be wondering if you need a safe, consider this. If you have money on the property, are you 100 percent certain that every one of your employees can be trusted? By the time you figure out who can not be trusted, the money is gone. Even if you are not a retail business, if you have cash, get a safe.
  • Use video camera surveillance. Just make sure you have a video camera that you can keep clean and functional. Evaluate your system to ensure that it is effective and clearly shows your subject's face. I have seen some suggestions that you should post the fact that you have a surveillance system. I think that you will have to make that decision for yourself.
  • Consider a decoy VCR system. A great tool! Many robbers will try to take the tape. Let them take the one on the counter or near the register, not the one in the back.
  • Beware of any suspicious customers or vehicles. Don't wait until it's too late. If something looks suspicious to you, then it is suspicious. You live and work there so you tell the police what is unusual and they will find out if it is cause for concern.
  • Practice good employee hiring techniques. A large percentage of robberies are conducted by former employees. They know your business and your procedures. They know your habits and your weaknesses.
  • Give the Store a Look that Says -We Are Vigilant. Many robbery suspects will tell you that this is a factor. Alert employees, clean and uncluttered interiors and well lit environments all help give the appearance of professionalism. During a recent interview I asked a suspect why he kept robbing stores from a specific chain and he said "The employees just look like they don't care, so I figured they would not stop me and they did not. It was a guy driving by that told on me, or I would have gotten away again."
  • Put the Robber on Stage. Windows should be clear of signage. Interior lighting should be bright enough that patrolling police cars can see inside without obscured windows and Greet Each Person Who Comes into the Store. This is one of the most important tips we can give. Look them in the face and evaluate them. If they don't seem quite right, you will know enough to alert a fellow employee. It is their body language and demeanor that change when they think you are on to them. This is good for robbery and shoplifting. The suspect does not want to be noticed.
  • Install an alarm. A panic alarm is a great tool. Carried on the body of an employee, it can summon the police silently and quickly. Train your employees that they are not to risk upsetting the robber in an attempt to trigger the alarm. Only if this can be done with 100 percent guarantee that there is no chance of detection.
  • Develop a Safe Business Network program in your community. Develop a method of sharing information about criminal or even suspicious activity with other businesses in your community or industry.

Special Late Night Steps:

  • Most store robberies occur after dark. At that time you should take special steps to make the store a less attractive target to would be robbers.
  • Keep the amount of money in the cash register at the absolute minimum. Many stores operate with less than fifty dollars between two registers; you can run a store on very little money if you request customers to pay for their purchases with the smallest bill and the exact change. If you need any particular denomination of money, ask your customers. They can often help you.
  • Minimize the available cash by putting large bills in a safe or drop box as soon as you get them; and, be certain all inside and outside lights are on and working.
  • If a business is situated close to a bank, deposits can be utilized to reduce the amount of cash on hand. When transporting cash or checks from a business to a bank or depository, do not use pre-marked money bags and avoid drawing attention to the fact that money is being carried. If possible, have someone accompany you and also frequently alter your route and time of delivery.
  • Consider the use of bait money in all registers. Record the series, serial numbers and denominations of a small amount of bills and in the event of a robbery, give these bills to the robber.
    However, ensure that bait money is verified on a regular basis. Identification of stolen property is always a problem. Unless ownership can be proven for court purposes, use of bait money is useless.
    Ask your employer the minimum amount of money to keep in the register after dark.

Actions To Take During The Robbery

  • Cooperate fully with the robber. Do not fight over money. Do not die for it either. If all you stand to lose is some cash, comply and prosecute. If you are being taken from the store, or someone you love, then make the decision you can LIVE with. Keep it short and smooth like a normal sales transaction. If you get nervous, so will the suspect. Stay calm and composed. You can fall apart later.
  • Give the robber any bait or decoy money in your drawer. See the above suggestion about a bait bill.
    Activate your alarm system. Only if it can be done safety.
  • Watch what the robbers touch. This is crucial. The police can dust for prints if you can tell them what was touched.
  • Carefully observe the robber and his weapon. Memorize peculiarities. Under stress it can be very tough to memorize all of the necessary details needed to identify the suspect. So pick a few features that you wont ever forget.
  • Tell the robber about any surprises! Nervous robbers make mistakes. Fatal ones.
    Try to alert other employees. Shouting robbery or even better a code word may help if there is some opportunity to warn someone.

What To Do After The Robbery

  • Do not chase the suspect! A safe peek to get a direction of travel, vehicle description or any other information may not hurt the chances of catching the suspect. But an emphasis on safety should be the main focus.
  • Call 911 as soon as it is safe to do so. Stay on the phone until 911 tells you to hang up and/or uniformed police arrive at your location.
  • The police will ask specific questions so answer them to the best of your ability
    • Date, time and Location of the crime
    • Injury or need for medical attention
    • Suspect description
    • Number of suspects involved
    • Physical information on suspects
    • Race
    • Sex
    • Age
    • Height/weight/build
    • Hair/eyes
    • Clothing from head to toe
    • Any other distinctive characteristics (i.e. tattoos, scars, et cetera​)
    • Suspect vehicle information
    • Make
    • Model
    • Color
    • Year manufactured
    • License number
    • Specific characteristics
    • Direction of travel

Crime scene protection

Protect the scene by:

  • Locking the doors until the police arrive.
  • Keep customers and employees from any area the suspect might have touched.
  • Don't touch any notes or items that the suspect touched like the register.
  • Ask witnesses to wait until the police arrive. If they have to leave, get their names and phone numbers at the very least.
  • You and the witnesses should make notes separately while information is fresh in your mind.
  • When the police arrive at the scene carefully exit the building to greet them.
  • Do not touch anywhere the suspect might have touched on the door.