A robbery is one of the most serious and potentially dangerous crimes committed in the United States today. A robber commits a holdup because he or she believes that their profit will be worth the risk. Statistics show that criminal activity is increasing at an alarming rate especially armed robbery. Each year, thousands of people are victims of this crime and many are attacked violently. Using these tips, you can help reduce the possibility of retail store armed robbery and protect the safety of employees and customers.
1.) ASSESS PEDESTRIAN ACTIVITY
In general, high activity areas are less prone to robberies. Assess the quantity and type of traffic, times of high and low activity and the potential for increasing traffic and activity.
It would be to the stores advantage to have a pay telephone nearby for pedestrian use should
someone notice trouble within the store. The phone should also be situated so a potential robber
would not be able to monitor the activities of the employee on duty while using the phone.
2.) WATCH FOR SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY
Keep alert and know what is happening inside and outside of your business. Watch for loiterers and politely ask them to leave. Don’t be afraid to call (911) when you see suspicious activity. Be aware of cars parked across the street or off to one side of the parking lot.
3.) MAKE SURE THERE IS GOOD VISIBILITY AND LIGHTING
It is important to provide as much visibility as possible into your store from the street and to
provide visibility from the inside of the store to the outside. The important point is that there
should be visibility from the register area to the street. This involves an assessment of your
lighting and the visibility it provides both during the day and at night.
Eliminate any dark areas and utilize photo sensors to insure lights come on at night. Replace burned out bulbs promptly.
Pedestrians, as well as cruising patrol cars, should have clear visibility into the store both during
the day and especially at night.
For instance, shrubs or trees sometimes obstruct the path of a floodlight. Sometimes trees cast
shadows over your lot at different times of the year. Look for such obstacles in your lot.
4.) BUILDING AND PARKING LOT SECURITY
Some retail store operators use some security measures which could slow a robbers escape.
Such measures could deter a robbery as well.
For instance, some stores fence their premises on three sides to slow a robber escaping around
the side of the store. Some stores allow parking only directly in front of their stores, so an
escape vehicle would have to be parked directly in front of the store. Some stores have just one
exit out of the parking lot, and some have speed bumps in the parking lot.
5.) KEEP LOW AMOUNTS OF CASH IN THE REGISTER
Large amounts of cash and its availability are attractive to robbers. The robber will know large
amounts of cash are available if he sees large bills in the register or sees the clerk putting large
bills into the register. That is why a low cash policy is important. Visibility into the cash
register is alright if cash levels are kept low. Low levels of cash may be a good deterrence,
versus the robber guessing wrong that the take will be substantial.
Establish and enforce policies that limit the maximum amount of money in the cash register to a
certain dollar amount.
No more cash should be available than is absolutely necessary to meet customer transactions.
Make sure large bills are dropped and not visible at the register. To enforce this policy, each
store needs a deposit safe so that employees can put away cash as it accumulates.
Installing a safe in your store also decreases the likelihood of a holdup since word will get out
that there is little cash to be obtained at your stores.
Any safe you purchase should be bolted to the floor.
Serious consideration should be given by management to the purchase and installation of a cash dispensing safe, which will facilitate frequent drops of cash stripped from the cash register, and recovery of change as needed.
6.) USE ROBBERY DETERRENCE SIGNAGE
Robbery deterrence signage, stickers, decals, etc. are available to let customers and potential
robbers know what a store is doing to deter robbery. For instance, placing a height measure by
an exit door helps witnesses determine the height of a fleeing robber.
Remember, whatever signage you have in place, make sure it is telling a true story. Do not
post signage which is not true.
7.) INSTALL SECURITY DEVICES
All security measures and procedures should be up front and not a secret. That means no
dummy cameras, fake alarm systems, or false signs indicating security measures that are not
actually in practice or place. If criminals think you are lying about one aspect of your store
security, they will think you are lying about others, such as not having access to certain cash
levels. This could lead to violence.
Also, other deterrence measures should be in place before a company invests in sophisticated
security equipment. There is not conclusive evidence that video surveillance equipment has
functioned as an effective deterrence to armed robbery.
Install appropriate systems consistent with the robbery risk of the area. Contact your local law
enforcement for records on the robbery risk of your area.
8.) TRAIN YOUR EMPLOYEES & MANAGEMENT
No matter how safe the inside and outside of the store can be, managers and employees must put robbery deterrence rules into effect. Here the emphasis is on the importance of training.
Training is important so an employee can react calmly and quickly in the event of a robbery.
Training you personnel and periodically refreshing them on robbery deterrence procedures can
curb robbery. It also demonstrates your concern for employees and customers. Training and
follow-up will be the key to your program’s success. Train your employees periodically. Establish a training schedule. An audio-visual component helps to reinforce the robbery deterrence procedures.
9.) BANK DEPOSIT & CASH COUNTING
Establish and enforce robbery deterrence procedures for counting the cash in the register and for
transporting cash receipts to the bank. Be discreet when counting large amounts of cash or
preparing a bank deposit. It is best to do that when there are no customers, or let someone else
handle the register so the employee can prepare the deposits in the back room.
Make frequent bank deposits and vary the time of the day when you make deposits. Hide the
money when going to the bank and vary the method of concealment. For instance put the cash in
a paper lunch bag, a plastic sandwich container, a knapsack, an empty rock salt bag, etc.
Do not be obvious about going to the bank. Do not wear your uniform, apron, or name tag to the
bank. Do not deposit at night if possible. If you have to deposit at night, consider having an
employee drive your car to the front of the store. If you have a lot of money to deposit, consider
calling an armored car service. (Some police officers will escort an employee to the bank.
Remember, law enforcement does not want a robber on their hands either.)
10.) POLICE PROTECTION
Work with your local police department to obtain planned and unplanned visits. Try to have
police come in on a timely basis for a free single serving non-alcoholic beverage (juice, coffee,
soda) to get the police officers into your store. If you have public restrooms, encourage the
police to come in to use them. If you do not have public restrooms, you might let the police
officer use the employee restrooms. Offering such amenities frequently results in a more
frequent visible part of the officers to respond to the stores more rapidly, in an emergency.
Employees should be encouraged to become better acquainted with the officers, who patrol the
neighborhood, and to develop friendly relationships and cooperate with the officers.
Ask police to drive through your parking lots when they are in the area to look in at your
Consider playing a police radio broadcast in the store at night to indicate a direct link to police.
Consider a sign such as: Store Subject to Routine Police Patrols (but only if the sign is true.)
Some store owners work with the neighborhood retailers to reduce robbery by pooling resources
from neighborhood retailers to fund a reward for the arrest and conviction of an armed robber.
Some retailers hire a uniformed guard to patrol the premises and other neighborhood retailers
premises, especially if they are open 24 hours. But be careful! Guards may sometimes incite a
challenge and provoke violence rather than deter it.