Not every pedestrian walking into your business is a customer, and not every vehicle is a delivery vehicle.
Business owners are continuously challenged by criminals in a very tough economic environment and need to be alert and pro-active to protect their businesses, employees, and customers from the threat of robberies at the business premises.
We would like to offer some safety advice on preventative and safety measures for business owners and staff.
Alertness and Safety Awareness
Business owners and employees need to remain alert to what is happening in and around the business all the time:
- Be aware of suspicious vehicles or persons parked or hanging around outside the business at deposit time, opening time, and closing time.
- Always remain alert to what is happening inside and around your business.
- Stay informed about crime trends in the area so that staff can be put on high alert or added security measures can be put in place if required.
- Respond swiftly to suspicious activity and notify the police of perceived criminal threats.
- Make sure your address is visible to law enforcement so police and emergency vehicles can easily find your business.
- Staying active in the community increases awareness and adds more watchful eyes to protect your business.
- Use technology such as WhatsApp and other instant messaging tools for awareness and swift responses required.
- Be extra cautious if you receive any request to keep your store open after your usual business hours. Remember to notify your security company.
- This may be a way for robbers to get you or your staff alone when other businesses have closed for the night.
Security Systems and Features
Security mechanisms include not only the latest in armed response and CCTV camera systems but also more general, often neglected safety features.
- Robbers do not like to be highly visible.
- With good lighting surrounding your store, potential thieves feel nervous as it’s easier for them to get spotted.
- Make your business as visible as possible from the exterior.
- The business should be well-lit on the inside and the outside.
- Good interior lighting allows people outside your business to see the people inside, and vice versa.
- The more visibility that is available, the less likely robbers will want to target your store.
- Key areas include entryways and windows.
- Keep windows clear of displays or signs and make sure your business is well-lighted.
- Eliminate any blind spots that may hide a robbery in progress.
- Replace burnt-out bulbs and remove obstacles that cast dark shadows over your business.
- Pay close attention to the darker areas around your property and consider installing a motion-activated light around the entrance.
- Keep extra doors such as side and rear-doors locked.
- Limiting store entrances will force all store visitors to enter and exit from the same entrance.
- Entrances should be outfitted with deadbolt locks.
- Access control. A door buzzer is a relatively inexpensive way to increase your business’s security without interfering with the flow of traffic.
- Windows and doors should have metal crossbars. Windows should have a burglar-resistant glass.
- Parking lots should have a fence and gate if required.
Alarm Systems, Security and CCTV Cameras
- Alarm systems and security cameras should be installed and announced using signage.
- Do not keep security measures a secret as these can be effective deterrents.
- Messaging could include security camera warnings, alarm system signs, declarations that no cash is kept overnight, security patrol warnings and other signage that reflects some of your robbery prevention measures.
- Your alarm system should be set up to be monitored by a monitoring company, in order to minimize delays and prompt a trained response. This is recommended for safety and increases the chances of success in managing a robbery incident when it occurs.
- Install CCTV cameras that face your front counter and behind the cash register. Also, install surveillance cameras in areas where a person could potentially hide.
- Hold-up alarms and panic buttons are designed to notify the authorities that a robbery is occurring or that one has occurred.
- Train employees to use the system.
- Regularly maintain and test your system to ensure it is functioning properly.
- Video surveillance acts as a criminal deterrent as well as a means of identifying suspects, should criminals breach or damage your property.
- Often, just seeing a camera in the corner is enough to change a thief’s mind.
Guarding and Patrol
- Security measures are strengthened by the presence of professional security guards.
- When an incident occurs, security guards can handle these dangerous situations through their training.
- From shopping malls to office buildings, all businesses are more secure with in-person security personnel.
- Have an employee or security guard keep an eye out when taking in products and shipments from the backdoor, and make sure that it is locked up when done.
Safety with Cash
- Keep cash on hand to an absolute minimum.
- Establish the maximum amount of money your business needs in the cash register and create a policy where the amount of cash in the register should not go above this limit.
- The visibility and availability of large amounts of cash are inviting to robbers.
- By carelessly handling money in the store, you could accidentally invite a robbery to happen.
- Be discreet when counting or handling large amounts of cash.
- Frequent deposits or safes are recommended.
- Change your routes and times of deposit regularly. Do so during normal business hours.
- Do not establish a pattern, take different routes at different times during the day.
- Do not be too obvious when going to the bank, leave your uniform or name tag behind and carry cash in a container that is not an obvious moneybag.
- Ask a security guard to escort you to the bank whenever possible.
- Be on the lookout and remain alert to suspicious vehicles and persons at banks.
- Large bills should be dropped into a deposit safe/ drop safe right away since safes are a deterrent as well.
- You may post a sign that drop safes are used from where cash cannot be retrieved by employees.
- Place cash registers in the front section of the store. This increases the chances of someone spotting a robbery in progress and reporting it to the police.
Employees and Training
- Training is an investment you make in your employees that might save a life.
- Share robbery prevention and response guidelines with staff so that they are informed.
- Encourages active responses that can make a huge difference during emergency situations.
- Advise all employees to be alert to their surroundings and to report any suspicious activity.
- Staff should be made aware of which information should not be revealed to inquiring minds.
- Encourage employees to report suspicious activity and to never try and handle a potentially dangerous situation.
- Do not assume your employees will know what to do in a high-stress situation.
- Regularly hold practice robbery drills so that the robbery response procedure is near automatic in the event of an actual robbery.
- Employees should be told to always cooperate with a robber.
- Greet customers as they enter the business. This gives potential robbers the impression you are alert and aware of their presence.
- Have at least 2 employees open and close the business.
- Keep in mind the enemy from within.
- The most common form of robbery comes from employee fraud and theft.
- Provide information about your security systems to employees only on a “need-to-know” basis.
Caution is required when appointing employees
- Focus on hiring responsible and trustworthy employees.
- Do not share too much sensitive information regarding your business with your staff.
- Install CCTVs around the store to keep an eye on employees and train them on store safety and expectations.
- Staff should be made aware that they will be monitored and that there will be serious consequences and disciplinary measures if they commit any form of fraud or theft.
Response during an Active Robbery
Be Aware and Alert to the Correct and Safe responses during a Robbery:
- Golden Rule: Merchandise and cash can always be replaced – people cannot!
- Try to stay as calm as possible and give the robber what they ask for and only that.
- Always keep your hands visible.
- Keep talking to a minimum – Do not argue with a gun.
- Let the robber know if another employee is coming out of another work area.
- Do not make any fast/sudden moves. The robber is as nervous as you are.
- Avoid eye contact. Do not stare but observe the robber’s appearance. Note any special characteristics and compare them to yourself to estimate height, weight, and age.
- Take note of the robbers’ weapons, such as a revolver, shotgun, rifle, knife or automatic firearm.
- Do not chase robbers. When it is safe, note the vehicle, colour, model, make, year, and direction of travel.