Policies and Training

Training New Employees for Retail Store Robbery Prevention

Despite the presence of cameras, time-controlled safes, and even armed and unarmed security officers, the number of convenience store, gas station, and retail store robberies continues to rise from year to year.

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According to the FBI’s annual Uniform Crime Report for 2016, “The average dollar value of property stolen per reported robbery was $1,400. Robberies accounted for an estimated $465 million in losses. Banks experienced the highest average dollar loss at $3,531 per offense. Compared with 2015, the report found that the number of robberies at convenience stores rose the most among six of the seven locations tracked in 2016. Last year there were 17,401 robberies of convenience stores, a 6.7% increase from 2015. For gas and service stations, there were 8,178 robberies, up 2.1% from 2015.” (www.UCR.FBI.gov)

Since the employee turnover rate for gas stations, liquor, and convenience stores tends to be quite high, owners and managers can find themselves in a near-constant training, reminding, and security awareness-building mode with new employees. Consider the following training reminders to reduce the likelihood and impact of a robbery:

  • One robber at the counter usually means one or more inside or outside the store, too. Remind employees to look for who the robber came in with or left with.
  • Train your employees to call 911 first, and speak to the police immediately as soon as it is safe. When they first call their parents, loved ones, or the store manager, it significantly delays the police response time and their ability to catch the robber(s).
  • Create a preprinted checklist for employees to write down the description of the suspect (or suspects and any related vehicles) after he or she has fled.
  • Don’t reveal too much about your security equipment or procedures to every employee. All store security information (safe combinations, alarms codes, location of the floor safe, camera or DVR access, etc.) should be given out on a “need to know” basis.
  • Warn your employees not to have any discussions about cash amounts or security devices or procedures, on or off the job, even with family members.
  • Create a fake set of keys and a staged wallet filled with a few one-dollar bills to keep at the register, in case the robber asks for the employee’s actual car keys and wallet. Train the employees to give up these decoys instead.
  • Develop special security procedures for when lone employees have to leave the floor, or for restroom breaks, garbage runs, or freezer work.
  • Install a high-quality camera and a large TV monitor at the main entrance to your store, to let everyone see themselves big and bold, as they enter.
  • Make the investment in digital CCTV cameras, with accompanying DVR hard drives or network software; they will pay for themselves over time.
  • Encourage your employees to pay closer attention to potential robbers the moment they enter the store. Casers often come in a few hours before the robbery, most often on the same day, to make sure nothing has changed from the last time. Since they often wear the same clothes (plus a hat or a mask), the police will often want to review the video footage going back several hours.
  • Keep the back door of the store, restaurant, and business, locked at all times. If you need ventilation, put up a steel door.
  • Keep the merchandise and advertising signs out of the street-sight lines, so they don’t block the window views from the outside looking in or vice versa, for customers or passing police cars.
  • Although stores certainly get robbed during daylight hours, teach your employees to have “Sundown Vigilance” and increase their security awareness after dusk.
  • Take better care of your money. Be more security-conscious while handling it in bulk. If you have to help the employee with change, close the register temporarily (or even close the store briefly), and do it discreetly or in another room with a locked door.
  • Change the daily routine for depositing the cash. Use different people, times, cars, methods, bags, and routes to the bank. Or consider investing in an armored car service as a group or in your strip mall.