Robberies in U.S. metropolitan areas are on the rise, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s latest crime statistics in its “Crime in the United States 2012” uniform crime report. Owners and operators of cash-based enterprises like convenience stores, restaurants and bars are particularly vulnerable to robbery, especially at night and when closing.
If you’re ever subject to a holdup, remember one thing: Robbers want your money or property (e.g., handbag, watch, jewelry, car or other items) and they want it fast. So give them what they want. Doing so may save your life.
Here are some tips to help prevent robberies:
Be alert. Robberies often occur at openings and closings because staffing is usually low while cash on hand can be relatively high.
Stay visible. Good visibility lets employees see anything suspicious happening outside the store, so they might have time to call 911. Robbers will avoid places where they can be seen, so avoid hanging posters and flyers in windows and doors and keep counter displays to a minimum. Make sure all parking, entrances and interiors are well-lit.
Control cash. Refrain from keeping unneeded money in the register drawer or even on hand. Transfer excess cash to a safe or the bank, the latter by using a cash logistics company like GardaWorld. Install an anchored drop-vault and instruct employees to put excess cash in it, but don’t give them a key or the combination. Drop all large bills over $20 into the vault; don’t put them under the drawer, as robbers know this practice. Keep “bait money” on hand, which comprises bills with their serial numbers recorded for tracing. Include this money in what is given a robber, if a robbery occurs. Finally, post a sign that no more than a set amount of cash is kept in the register at any one time; no denominations larger than $20 are accepted; and employees lack access to the safe. If you use a service like GardaWorld, make sure to put the service provider’s sticker in your window to deter any would-be thieves.
Secure the building. Except for the main entrance, keep all doors locked at all times, and have employees use the front door. Install an entrance signal that sounds when customers come and go. This will alert employees when someone enters or leaves the store. Video surveillance systems are highly effective deterrents. Make sure cameras are clearly visible (and have clear, overlapping views of all parts of the store).
Engage customers. Although it seems common sense, greet each customer as they walk in the store and note their appearance. Being attentive isn’t just good customer service; it shows you’re in control. Customers should never be allowed into a store after it’s closed. Same goes for employees’ friends.
Know your employees. Check the backgrounds of all employees, including police records and references. Take photos of each new employee and keep their application and photo on file even after they’ve left employment. After all, they know the cash operations and can either tell others or use the information to commit a robbery themselves.
If a robbery happens, the most important response is to stay calm and give the robber(s) whatever they want. Keep your hands visible and don’t make any surprising moves. Note as much as you can about the person or persons, including their height; skin, hair and eye color; tattoos or scars; type and color of clothing; and type of weapon. If you can see their car and direction they left, note that too. Immediately after they leave and you’ve called the police, write down everything you can remember about them and the incident. All of this information will help police track down the robbers and bring them to justice.
* * *
You can help further minimize your risk of robbery by employing GardaWorld Cash Services to help you transport your excess cash and checks to the bank safely. To find out more, please visit: http://www.garda.com/cash-services/en/solutions/secure-transportation/.