It is an uneasy time in the country and with safety top of mind for everyone, we thought it was a prudent time to revisit the topic of robbery.
One element of safety is robbery prevention and preparation. While in general, robberies within our industry are few and far between, they do happen. Keeping robbery risk in mind will help improve the safety of your operation, your customers and your employees.
Here are several recommendations to keep in mind as you work to minimize the risk of a robbery and create an appropriate site-specific plan for your operation. As an added bonus, many of these items will also drive your sales and profitability.
- Always have good relations with local law enforcement. Know your local sheriff, state trooper commander and/or police chief. Warmly invite patrol officers and other law enforcement members to enjoy your great hospitality.
- Greet every customer that comes into your location. Those looking to do something unfavorable do not want to be noticed. Even employees working outside should be greeting customers as they cross paths. The more greeting, the better the overall safety and sales environment of your operation.
- Ensure you have great visibility into your store. Make it easy for customers and law enforcement to easily see what is going on inside your store. This also makes marketing and merchandising sense for potential customers to see a warm and inviting operation within.
- Ensure your lights are always burning bright. Replace any dim or out-of-order lighting. Bright lights we can see in the night are always beneficial for safety and sales.
- Keep your store inside neat and organized. The easier it is for you to see customers, the easier it is for you to know what is happening within your operation before it begins. Additionally, we all prefer to shop in an environment that is neat and organized, allowing us to feel comfortable to spend freely.
- Always keep as little as cash as possible within your cash registers by dropping cash as frequently as possible. Also ensure that employees follow your cash drop policy and enforce the policy when they do not. Many organizations prefer when their customers see them making consistent drops. Drop safes are an important part of prevention, ensure you have them.
- Get out and about during the shift. When customers see you out in the floor when you are not busy, it adds to the security of the operation. It also signals to the customers you know what is going on.
- Do not flash cash openly when moving it from the front of the operational transaction counter to the back office, or vice versa. This policy should also include taking any money to the bank.
If a robbery occurs, there are several steps you can take to improve the safety of your employees and customers. Always ask your local law enforcement for their recommendations before implementing a response plan, but consider the following
- The best way to ensure the safety of your staff and your customers is to get the robber out of your store as soon as possible. The less time a robber is inside your establishment, the less likely someone on the premises will be injured. Everything in your store, including money, can be replaced, but a life cannot be.
- During the robbery, you should comply with all the robber’s demands EXCEPT leaving the location with the robber. Be careful to not make any movements that can be perceived by the robber as threatening.
- Try to explain everything you are doing, and, if possible, repeat back the robber’s instructions as you are doing what they have asked so it is clear to the robber you are complying with the demands set forth. An example would be to say, “I am placing the money in a bag as asked.”
- Try to avoid looking straight at robbers. They may react with aggression if they think you are trying to identify them. Robbers to not want to be identified, hence the reason why it is so critical to greet all customers.
- Robbers often react violently when caught off guard or surprised. Thus, avoid startling them. Let the robber know of others within your store, such as staff and customers and anyone working outside, who may suddenly appear and set off a violent chain reaction.
- Never leave the store for any reason, including trying to get more vehicle information. The robber may perceive you as a threat as you exit the store.
- Never chase after the robber. Let the robber go and allow law enforcement the opportunity to do what they are professionally trained to do.
After the robber has left the store, you should at a minimum do the following:
- Call 911 to report the robbery.
- Call your manager, district manager and/or owner.
- Lock the front door and do not allow anyone to enter the store.
- Do not touch anything that the robber may have touched so that you can preserve any potential evidence.
- Ask anyone within the store to immediately write down what they witnessed. Do not speak to each other when writing. Each person will be able to reference something of value the others may or may not have witnessed. Speaking to one another during your note taking can impact what you describe.
- You should write done everything you have witnessed as well without speaking to others within the store.
The notes that you and any others witness to the crime should at a minimum consist of a description of the robber. If possible, also include:
- The robber’s estimated height, using your location’s door mounted height identifiers;
- The robber’s estimated weight, using your own weight as a starting point;
- description of their clothing;
- Their race;
- Any distinguishing traits such as glasses, scars, tattoos, limp, body piercing; and
- If it was easily identifiable, the make, model color, distinguishing markings/traits and license number of vehicle.
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