Call the authorities if you suspect someone.
Commercial armed robbery - especially robbery of smaller retail operations - has become so widespread that it threatens every city and town regardless of size or population. You're a target...possibly an easy target.
This web page explains a few basic security measures you can take to make your place of business less inviting to the armed robber. You'll also learn what you should do before, during and after an armed robbery.
Taking just a little time to view this web page right now can save you a lot of trouble later.
Keep your local law enforcement agency telephone number handy. Be alert to any suspicious strangers loitering in or near your place of business. Be especially wary of the costumer who is frequently seen lingering on the premises with no apparent intention of making a purchase; the customers who leave the premises and sit outside in their car as if "casing the place"; and the unfamiliar customer who asks what time you close. Watch for persons attempting to hide on your premises near closing time.
If the person you suspect arrives in, loiters in, or departs in a car, try to get the license plate number. Be tactful. Don't rush to accuse a customer of their motives. They may very well be innocent and you can jeopardize the goodwill of your business. Use discretion - but don't be afraid to call the authorities.
Maintain visibility into your place of business. Never block the view into your business by crowding display windows with merchandise, posters, and signs. They might help attract robbers and shield their actions.Use low display counters and cases to keep sight-lines free from both inside and outside. If, for reasons of physical layout, any part of the premises cannot be seen from your cashier area you should install convex mirrors in strategic positions.
Fight crime with light. Keep all entrances, exits, and parking areas well lighted.
Secure your cashier operation. Install barriers high enough to keep unauthorized persons out of the area (s) where cash transactions take place. Place the cash register a safe distance from the door, but not so far back that it cannot be viewed from outside.
Keep a spare key hidden in your store room or cooler. Often robbers will try to detain their victim(s) by locking them in a back room, closet, or cooler. A spare key should be hidden, and an emergency release lever should be installed in such areas, so you can quickly get out and get to a phone.
Install a hold-up alarm system. Many alarm systems are on the market today that are available in a variety of types and prices. These systems serve two major purposes: (1) they alert authorities or a neighbor that a robbery is in progress; (2) they serve as an effective deterrent to potential robbery when you make it known that an alarm system is on the premises.
Too often, merchants invest in an alarm system but fail to "publicize" its presence to their customers. By placing signs and/or official-looking stickers on the entrance to your business, you'll help discourage would-be robbers.
(Remember to register your alarm by contacting the Alachua County Sheriff's Office Alarm Reduction Unit at (352) 264-6650. You will receive proper instructions and paper work on how to get your alarm registered).
NOTE: MAKE SURE YOUR ALARM SYSTEM IS IN WORKING ORDER AT ALL TIMES AND INSTRUCT TRUSTED EMPLOYEES IN ITS USE.
Keep cash on premises to a minimum. Make frequent pickups of money from your register. Avoid counting cash at the same time each day. When making bank deposits:
If you handle relatively large sums of cash, it would be wise to consider using an armored car collection service. It is advisable to maintain a recorded amount of "decoy" or marked currency which is held ready to be given to the robber. This will help tracing and the eventual apprehension of the robber.
Also check into obtaining a "bait-pack" for each of your cash drawers. The fake bundle of bills explodes with a permanent dye and a tear gas bomb within a specific number of minutes after it's removed from the register. Keep your safe locked at all times!
Familiarize your employees with robbery prevention measures Hold frequent meetings and make plans in advance as to who will take certain actions if a robbery occurs. For instance, who calls the authorities? Who makes observations of the robbers and getaway car? Who protects the evidence at the scene? Who detains witnesses, and so on?
Some employees may be especially gifted in the art of observation. You should alert these persons to make careful observations during a robbery. It's a good idea to practice observation with your employees. For example, ask them to describe the last customer who was in your business. If possible, install "height markers" at varying levels on door frames. These can easily be made with plastic tape and can help in estimating the height of the robber.
Check the references of job applicants carefully. In a surprising number of cases, apprehended robbers have turned out to be past employees of the business that was robbed. Careful screening of job applicants can help prevent this. Follow up on character references. You never need to apologize for exercising this common-sense precaution.
A small investment in an inexpensive camera can help law enforcement agencies identify a past employee who has come back to rob you. Knowing such a picture exists can discourage the potential robber.
Use two people (at least) to open and close your business. Establish a system of prearranged signals. One person should remain outside (or inside, upon closing) until the other gives the all-clear signal. Always try to enter or leave via the front door. Too many robberies have been committed in dark alleys.
IN GENERAL, BECOME SECURITY CONSCIOUS RIGHT NOW. DON'T WAIT TO BE ROBBED BEFORE YOU INITIATE THESE MEASURES.
During the robbery Above all, take no action which would jeopardize your personal safety! If the robber displays a firearm consider it loaded. If the robber tells you they are armed, believe them! You might lose some money, but you could save your life and the lives of your co-workers.
Activate your silent alarm system, if possible. Be extremely careful to avoid any overt motion that might anger the robber or cause them to panic.
Attempt to alert other employees that a robbery is taking place by using prearrange signals. Again, avoid any overt signal that can be detected by the robber. The alert employee(s) can then notify authorities that a robbery is taking place and increase the chances that the robber will be apprehended.
Carefully observe physical characteristics of the robber. If more than one robber is involved, study the closest one. Don't try to observe all characteristics in complete detail. Characteristics to study include: race, approximate age, weight, height (install height markers, as suggested earlier), type of complexion, color of hair and eyes, clothing worn (head to foot), build, speech (accent), any noticeable scars, marks, or deformities. Also, note the robber's method of operation and try to remember exactly what they said. Noting their exact wording can help in their apprehension as a robber often uses the same routine and means of escape.
Look for accomplices. Many robberies are committed by more than one person. The accomplice(s) may be outside in the get-away car or in another section of the business.
Observe the getaway vehicle. Note the color, make, model, and year of the vehicle. If you are not familiar with car style by year, try to note some distinguishing style characteristic, such as tail light design, hood ornament, or front grill design. Try to write down the license plate number. Was a tail light burned out? Were there any dents in the fender?
Note the type of weapon. Did the robber use a knife? A gun? What kind? Was it a revolver? A sawed-off shotgun? A rifle? How many barrels, etc.?
AGAIN IT CANNOT BE EMPHASIZED ENOUGH TO COOPERATE AT ALL TIMES WITH THE ROBBER. DON'T TRY TO TAKE THE LAW INTO YOUR OWN HANDS. SOME OF THE BIGGEST HEROES AREN'T AROUND TO TELL ABOUT IT TODAY.
After the robbery
Notify law enforcement officials as soon as the robbers leave your premises.
Immediate action can help in apprehension. Be prepared to give the following information:
Ask all witnesses to stay until the authorities arrive. This will usually be just a matter of minutes.
Lock the doors if possible. Allow no one except the authorities in. The authorities realize you have a business to run and will detain you only as long as it takes to obtain the necessary information.
Protect the scene of the crime. Stop others from disturbing the premises. Don't touch any articles that may have been touched by the robber. You might destroy clues and/or fingerprints.
Don't discuss the robbery with anyone until questioned by the authorities.
YOUR COMPLETE COOPERATION WITH THE AUTHORITIES CAN AID IN THE APPREHENSION OF THE ROBBER. REMEMBER, APPREHENSION LEADS TO PREVENTION.