Robberies can be costly and utterly devastating for business owners, employees, and patrons. It’s important to take preventative measures to lower the risk of a robbery occurring in your establishment.
The chances of getting robbed are higher in retail stores. According to WorkSafeBC, robberies “typically present the greatest risk of violence to retail workers and customers.” However, no business is immune. All businesses should make it a priority to reduce the risk of robbery.
What is Robbery?
According to the Justice Laws of Canada website, robbery is described as, “Every one commits robbery who:
- steals, and for the purpose of extorting whatever is stolen or to prevent or overcome resistance to the stealing, uses violence or threats of violence to a person or property;
- steals from any person and, at the time he steals or immediately before or immediately thereafter, wounds, beats, strikes or uses any personal violence to that person;
- assaults any person with intent to steal from him; or
- steals from any person while armed with an offensive weapon or imitation thereof,”
Robbery Prevention Tips for Businesses
The following security measures protect offices and stores from robbery, increases the safety of staff and customers, secures business assets, as well as provides peace of mind.
1) Stay Alert
Be aware of what is happening inside and around your business at all times. Act fast with suspicious activity. Stay informed about local crimes so that staff can be put on high alert or added security measures can be put in place if required.
Depending on your location, apps like Nextdoor and Citizen can send alerts for crimes that occur in your neighbourhood. Your local police department likely uses Twitter to post crime updates as well. You can always opt for the local newspaper, radio station or TV channel—all of which likely post updates on their websites to make local news accessible 24/7.
2) Train Your Staff
It's important to share robbery prevention and response guidelines with your staff so that they are informed. Always have at least 2 employees open and close the business; these times are especially prone to robbery due to low staffing and typically high amounts of cash on hand. Staff should be made aware of which information should not be revealed to inquiring minds. Staff should be encouraged to report suspicious activity and told to never try and handle a potentially dangerous situation. Regularly hold practice robbery drills so that the robbery response procedure is near automatic in the event of an actual robbery. Lastly, employees should be told to always cooperate with a robber.
3) Ensure Visibility
Make sure your business is well-lit on the inside and outside. Key areas include all entry-ways and windows. Burnt out bulbs should be replaced right away. Scan the area for obstacles that cast shadows at different times of the day (ie. trees). All areas of your business should be clearly visible—especially at night.
4) Don’t Store Excess Cash in the Register
Cash registers should not store large amounts of cash. Bank deposits should be made often, only during business hours and never at routine times. If robbers see your staff storing large bills in the register, consider that an invitation. In fact, more important than limiting visibility of the cash register content is maintaining the lowest possible levels of cash at all times. With low financial rewards, potential robbers are not as enticed. Large bills should be dropped into a deposit safe right away since safes are a deterrent as well.
5) Install Security Devices
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.
Furthermore, 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.
Most business owners do not have the training to respond appropriately to a robbery. It is important to keep this in mind when purchasing a security device, as some devices need to be self-monitored by the end user.
6) Use Deterrence Signage
Inform potential robbers of the measures that your business has taken to deter robbery. This can include:
- Security camera warnings
- Alarm system signs
- Height measure by the exit
- Declarations that no cash is kept overnight
- Security patrol warnings
- Any other signage that reflects your robbery prevention measures
7) Install Physical Security Measures
Depending on the location of your business, entrances should be outfitted with deadbolt locks. Windows and doors should have metal crossbars. Windows should have burglar-resistant glass. Parking lots should have a fence and gate if required.
8) Be an Active Member of Your Community
Befriend your neighbours. Partake in community events. These relationships cost no money and organically result in additional watchful eyes. Agree to keep an eye out for each other’s establishments.
9) Hire Real, Live Security Personnel
As far as deterring robbery, the above security measures are further strengthened by the presence of professional security guards. Plus, 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.
The above tips significantly minimize risk but no matter how many security measures you have in place, robberies can still happen.
How to Handle a Robbery
If the dreaded event occurs, please remember the following tips:
- Do not make any sudden moves
- Avoid confronting, attacking, or chasing the robber
- Do not make eye contact with the robber
- Keep your hands visible to the robber at all times
- Cooperate with the robber, doing as they say
- Keep your talking to a minimum and do not volunteer information unless asked
And as soon as the robber leaves, take the following steps:
- Call 911 immediately
- See if you can get a look at the robber’s licence plate as well as the direction they head
- Once you have called the police, recap all the details on paper including a physical description of the robber and the series of events from start to end, weapons they carried...etc.
- Do not touch any surfaces nor objects that the robber may have come in contact with in case they left their fingerprints
- Ask witnesses to stick around until police officers arrive on the scene