Robbery prevention for businesses

Robbery is the unlawful taking of property from someone by the use of force or the threat of violence. This is different from theft because the property is taken directly from a person and there is a threat directed toward the victim. The measures described may not be applicable for every business; however, there are certain basic preventive measures that apply to all cash handling situations.

How to Prevent a Business Robbery

* Maintain visibility throughout the store. Keep all doors and windows clear of signs and posters that can hinder visibility. Maintaining a clear field of vision allows people outside to see inside the store. This fact alone may deter some potential robbers. Also, keep aisles clear of signs and displays. Robbers don’t like to be observed and the elimination of hiding places help to ensure they stay away.

* Greet customers as they enter your store making direct eye contact. This serves two purposes. It improves customer relations. More importantly, it sends a message to any person entering the store that they have been recognized.

* Keep the facility well lit. Poor lighting can hamper visibility and can create an environment that may be inviting to a robber.

* Develop a cash control program. There is no better way to help prevent a robbery than by keeping the smallest amount of cash on the premises. No more than $50.00 should be kept in a cash register at any given time. Post a notice to that effect visible to the public.

* Inform employees not to accept large bills during transactions. If money must be kept on the premises, store it in a locked safe and make frequent safe drops or bank deposits.

* Make bank deposits on a routine basis utilizing either an armored car service or, if this is not feasible, vary routes to the bank and times of deposit. Take a second person along whenever possible.

* If an alarm system is in use, clearly post a warning on the outside door of the facility. If the facility also has a duress alarm, do not use it during a robbery unless the situation is life threatening. Always report a non-life threatening crime over the telephone.

* Remain alert and watchful for suspicious activity. If a suspicious person is observed, notify the police. Be cautious about answering questions concerning the facility. Questions relating to opening and closing times, the facility alarm system, how many employees are on duty at any given time, etc., Such questions should be red flags and should be a warning signals.

* Keep side and back doors locked to prevent undetected entry. The person in charge of the facility should have the only keys to these doors.

* Take precautions during opening and closing of the facility. When opening the facility, always have two persons present. One person should enter the facility and conduct a visual check and then signal to the other using a predetermined sign that all is okay or another sign that there is trouble. During closing check all back rooms, restrooms, and closets to ensure that no one remains in the facility.

What to do and what not to do during a Robbery:

DO:

Remain calm.There is no need to bring undue attention to the situation. To do so could cause panic and endanger lives.

Cooperate with the robber. Robbers seldom hurt people who are willing to cooperate.

Handle the entire procedure as if you were with a customer. Slowing down your actions in the hope that the police will arrive before the robber leaves only endangers lives.

Observe what the robber looks like and develop a mental picture so that an accurate description can be given to the police.

Tell the robber about any possible surprises such as a second employee who is working in a back room. Also, inform him/her if you must move in an unanticipated way.

DO NOT:

Don’t argue or fight with the robber. Any amount of money is not worth personal injury.

Don’t try to persuade the robber to give himself/herself up. Once a robbery has started, it is too late for a robber to change his/her mind.

Don’t chase or follow the robber. Police could mistake you for the robber.

What to do after a Robbery:

Protect the crime scene. Leave everything as it is. Don’t try to clean up or touch any possible evidence.

Discontinue business and lock the facility.

Call the Police immediately at 911 or 352.392.1111.

Ask witnesses to stay until an officer arrives. If unable to do so, write down their names, addresses, and phone numbers.

Write down a description of the robber including sex, race, height, weight, build, eye and hair color, scars or tattoos, jewelry, approximate age, and clothing. If possible, note in which direction the suspect fled.

Armed with these tips you may be able to prevent a robbery of your business. You also have some basic guidelines for what to do if a robbery occurs.

For further information on this or others safety topics please contact the University of Florida Police Department’s Community Services Division at 392-1409.