Do You Really Understand Your Risk?

January 21, 2013

Years ago, I heard a story about a 16-year-old girl who managed the evening reception desk for a 20-chair hair salon in a busy, upscale mall. This particular salon is part of a nationwide chain, owned by one of the world’s largest consumer products companies. The landlord, incidentally, is the nation’s largest mall developer and operator.


Tragically that year, a 47-year-old mother and her seven-year-old daughter were found in the mall’s parking lot, murdered in their SUV. According to surveillance cameras, the mother had withdrawn $500 cash that evening from a local ATM. Months earlier, a 30-year-old mother and her two-year-old son had suffered a similar ATM cash robbery but survived without physical harm.

Despite those events, the 16-year-old’s 10 p.m. closing duties included cash delivery from the salon’s receipts—averaging $2,000—into the after-hours deposit drawer of a top national bank located at the far edge of the mall’s parking lot.

Who’s watching? From the time she locked the front door with the bank’s zippered cash pouch under her arm, to the time she dropped the deposit took about 20 minutes. She had to walk through the mall into the parking lot, and get into her Honda Civic-which doesn’t offer the protection of an armored truck–where she’d then drive 400 yards through a dimly lit, mostly vacant parking lot to the bank. Her pay, by the way, for this important (and risky) daily cash delivery chore, was minimum wage.

A perfect set-up for cash-hungry criminals? You bet. The girl’s father used to drive from his home a couple miles away to shadow his daughter and make sure she made the deposit safely. Had harm come to her, tragedy aside, it would have been a hands-down, multimillion-dollar jury win for his trial lawyers against the salon’s corporate owner, plus the bank and the mall’s operator. It also would have been a public relations nightmare for all three companies, especially in light of the two earlier crimes.

Lessons learned:

1. Routine cash drops are ideal for criminals to scope, time and plan their robberies. As a store owner or manager, however, you’ll never know if criminals are watching and plotting.

2. Companies that assume cash delivery is routine and risk-free face enormous liabilities. These liabilities can be costly not only to their bottom lines, but also to their brand and customer relations. The loss of cash can turn out to be the least of their worries.

3. Secure, affordable armored car transport can minimize the risks of robbery and cost less than hauling the trash away each month. Armored transportation of cash can also provide employees with a much greater sense of security, while showing that ownership care about them, and in turn, raising overall morale.

If you insist on handling your own cash in transit, either doing it yourself or having an employee do it, be sure to avoid routines. Vary the times of day, the routes you take to your financial institution, and even the branch you choose to use. However, you should also consider using a cash logistics company like Garda and let its armored vehicle transport your cash to the bank. You’ll save time, eliminate risk, and provide greater security for you and your employees.