Real Cops Real Crime Real Advice
Commercial Burglary & Robbery Prevention Tips
By John M. Carpino
The following tips and suggestions were written primarily with the retail shop keeper and restaurateur in mind. Many of them however are valuable no matter what your business is.
Key Holder List
First of all make sure the local police dept. has a list
of authorized personnel with a key for after hours contact. If the police suspect
something is out of the ordinary and the business is closed, they need a means to contact
either the owner of a key holder. If you have an alarm company they will have access to
this information, but the police may not know of your current alarm company and be unable
to contact you in the event they need to do so.
Install cameras in areas where you suspect a theft may occur. If dealing with cash, such as the case of a fast food business or convenient type store, install a camera to view the register and employee activity. Every business owner like to think that they have hired honest, trustworthy employees, yet we have seen time and again employers getting ripped off by their own employees. You may want to install a camera such as a pin hole type without the knowledge of the employees. If they are aware of the camera they will simply operate with their back to the camera or otherwise block the view. You will also want a camera to view customers in the event of a robbery or short change scam. Always have the cameras connected to a video recorder. You must keep a tape of what the camera captures and not simply monitor the activity captured by a camera. A tape is a great tool for the police to use during an investigation. A long playing time- lapse VCR is best. Rotate a tape every seven (7) days so you at least have a copy of the past weeks activity. Bad guys might visit your business one day and return the next to commit a robbery after they have cased out the place. A bad guy might even return after hours to commit a burglary, which would be caught on camera/tape.
It's a good idea to have an alarm system in place with a panic button for holdups. Have a predetermined code with your alarm provider in the event you are caught off guard and forced to call your alarm company by the bad guy as you open or close for the day. If you have a predetermined code the alarm company will be able to alert the police that you are in distress and the police will handle the matter accordingly.
Most police agencies now have an ordinance that requires
a business to pay a fine for false alarm activations, so keep them to a minimum. Too many
false alarms give the police the impression that it's just another false alarm at your
Also check with your local police and see if they offer
a crime prevention service to survey your business, both inside and out, and make
recommendations to make your place more secure and safe.
It is a good practice not to empty the trash after dark if at all possible. If you need to do so make sure two (2) people are assigned the task. Often stick up guys wait until closing time and wait for an employee to empty the trash. Once encountered at the outside trash area the bad guy will re-enter the business with the employee. The rest of the story is for you to tell the police.
If an employee is terminated due to a theft or related
problem you should change the locks if this person had a key and you are unsure if you
have received all of the keys in question. Also change the code with your alarm company,
to prevent any former employees from having access to your building and business.
Leave some lights on inside your business overnight for
the police to observe inside activity. In the event you discover a burglary call the
police immediately, don't clean up the mess. You may destroy valuable evidence.
After the police do their job, you can clean up. Whether you have an alarm or not
you may want to consider investing in gates to go across your windows. This is especially
important if you leave valuable items and merchandise in a window display. You may leave
items on display overnight and you feel it is safe as long as your alarm is activated. I
can't tell you how many times a smash and grab team will drive to a different community
every night, until caught, and commit a smash and grab job. The offenders will throw
any easily available object through the window and quickly remove items on display. The
sounding alarm will alert the bad guys that they only have a few minutes to work with
before the alarm is received and the police are dispatched. Gates don't look attractive,
but either does the mess left behind by the burglars.
Consider having two employees make the late or early deposit so there is no question if the money made it to the overnight bank drop. Employees have been known to report a fake robbery in order to take the days receipts. Even the most trusted employee can run into a financial problem that causes them to make a wrong decision. One person puts cash in a safe at closing time and another opens the same safe the next morning and reports the cash missing. Who did it, the night employee or the morning employee? Now what? Did the night employee place the cash in the safe? Did the morning employee take the cash and report it missing? Using two employees to make deposits will reduce the chance of your receipts coming up short.
Use an armored car service if at all possible to keep your people out of the business of making deposits of large sums of cash.
If you insist on making your own deposits with your own
personnel then don't get into a schedule of making the deposits at the same time each day
or night and don't advertise by using a bank bag. Even if you are able to walk across the
parking lot to the bank during the day, do not set a pattern. A bad guy can simply
drive up and demand the money, its as simple as that. People get desperate = people get
stupid = people get dangerous.
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