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Experiencing a robbery is something that can be incredibly difficult for businesses to recover from—not just financially, but psychologically and emotionally as well. A robbery is defined as a criminal act in which the perpetrator either uses violence or the threat of violence to perform theft.
Robbery’s slightly less evil brother is burglary, which is an act in which someone illegally enters your business property in order to steal something from it. Naturally, burglaries are much more common.
According to a recent FBI report, there were close to 4.5 times more burglaries committed in 2019 than robberies, with a study by Statista indicating that around 250,000 armed robberies were committed in the US in 2019.
And while a majority of robberies occur on the street, highway, or at a residential home, no small percentage of them occur at the workplace. The aforementioned FBI study showed that, in terms of commercial spaces, attempted robberies occurred most frequently at commercial properties (16.5%), convenience stores (6.8%), gas stations (3.2%), and banks (1.4%).
However, no business can ever be 100% protected and certain that it will not face a robbery. And as already mentioned, the aftermath of a robbery can be daunting to deal with for businesses. Damaged property that needs repairing, replacing stolen assets, having to close down your business during the investigation—all of which can take a serious financial toll on your company.
But it’s also important to recognize and be ready for the possible emotional trauma that the victim, and anyone else present at the time of the robbery, may endure. And remember, there’s always a chance of injury when dangerous events such as this occur at the workplace.
That’s why all businesses, even those that operate in locations that are generally considered to be low-risk, should take the proper steps that are necessary to protect themselves and their employees from possible robbery attempts.
Robbery Prevention: What Can Your Business Do?
Preventing a crime sounds like something the police (or superheroes) should be in charge of doing. What can the average business owner really do to help prevent a robbery?
When we’re talking about how to prevent robbery in a business, the same principles apply as when you’re looking to prevent much more common threats and risks such as cyber attacks and a variety of other everyday business risks that can give you headaches.
Risk prevention and management plans are all about identifying possible risks and making sure you are doing everything you can to not only decrease the probability of those events occurring but also being able to successfully recover from them if they do occur, with as little damage incurred as possible.
So let’s take a look at some robbery prevention tips your business can look to implement. And while some of these steps might sound very simple and commonplace, it’s often those steps that are most effective as they are what will help you build a strong foundation for your robbery prevention program.
Educate Your Staff
Businesses can’t expect their employees to know how to behave in the case of a robbery or any other type of high-pressure event. And while it’s something that workers don’t want to think about, it is definitely something that they need to be prepared for as much as possible.
This is especially true, of course, for employees that work in industries in which robberies are more prevalent, such as retail. Be sure that your employee onboarding and training program includes tips and recommendations on how to behave in stressful situations and how to remain as calm as possible in the case of a robbery or a similar event in which tensions are high.
Instruct your employees to greet new visitors and pay attention to everyone that enters their workplace. Greeting visitors is not just a sign of good customer service but also an excellent opportunity to take notice of who is coming in. This practice should help your staff stay alert and pay better attention to both people inside the workplace and even those who might be observing from just outside.
Your training program should also teach employees about signs and potentially suspicious behavior they should be on the lookout for which can tip off a robbery before it starts.
Have Clear Opening and Closing Procedures
Establish protocols when opening and closing your workplace. Employees should check for signs of forcible entry before they open the door in the morning. If anything looks suspicious, they should call the police before entering themselves and should only enter if they are certain that there is no one else inside.
If possible, make sure that no one is closing and opening on their own. Robbers will be more likely to strike at this time if they see that there is only one person standing in their way.
Install Security Cameras and Alarms
The market for security cameras and alarms is well served, so you shouldn’t have much trouble finding the best solutions for your business and at a good price. Installing a security system makes your workplace less attractive to robbers. It is one of the first things they look for and if they see cameras on your premises, they might decide that the risk isn’t worth it for them.
That’s why you should make sure they are clearly visible when you install your surveillance cameras and be sure that they cover all the critical spots in your workplace. You should also put signs and stickers on the window indicating that you have alarms and security cameras installed. Again, this could dissuade criminals from attempting to rob you. And don’t forget to regularly maintain and test your systems to ensure everything is working properly.
Invest in Proper Lighting and Visibility
If the premises are well-lit, it is much easier for passers-by to notice if something out of the ordinary is happening inside your business. Like security cameras, having a well-lit business might deter robbers from trying their luck.
Robbers are always looking to try and rob the businesses that look easiest to rob. The more you’re doing to make your business appear difficult to rob, the better your robbery prevention plan.
It’s also a good idea to keep a light on overnight to ensure that any motion is visible either from the outside or by your security cameras.
Don’t Keep Large Amounts of Cash Around
It is never a good idea to keep excess cash in the cash register of a retail store of any type. In fact, every business should try to keep as little cash in the workplace as possible. If you are a retailer, keep just enough money on hand to be able to make customer transactions and regularly drop large bills into a safe deposit box.
Retailers should also make bank deposits a daily routine in order to avoid keeping large amounts of cash in the safe overnight. If possible, have two people take the money to the bank at a different time every day, using various routes so criminals can’t track them easily or notice patterns in your deposit plan.
You could also use armored car services if necessary and avoid putting yourself and your staff at risk. If that is not an option, take precautions to disguise the moneybag and consider using different cars and routes to make it more difficult for criminals to keep track of your protocols.
Be Careful Hiring Staff
Hiring reliable and trustworthy staff is not an easy task. If you don’t think you are a good judge of character, or you don’t have the time to devote to this important process, consider outsourcing the hiring process to an HR agency to ensure you are making good hires.
Remember that trust is earned and limit the amount of information you share with new hires at first. Employees could be conspiring with outside robbers, assisting them, and giving them information that could help them commit the robbery.
It isn’t uncommon for employees or former staff to attempt a robbery on their own either.
Develop a Good Relationship With Neighbors
Whether you are located in a busy neighborhood or somewhere quiet, you probably have neighbors who either live or work close to you. Befriend your neighbors and be a good neighbor yourself. This builds a sense of community and gives you several extra sets of watchful eyes that could notice any suspicious behavior around your business.
Maintaining a good relationship with your neighbors also allows you to learn about new developments in the area and gain general knowledge about the neighborhood. Of course, it would help you stay on top of crime trends in your area and keep you informed on that front as well.
A strong local community is a great deterrent to crime because everyone is watching out for one another.
What to Do When a Robbery Occurs
No matter what precautions and preventive measures you have taken, a robber might still be intent on trying to steal from you.
There is no way to know how somebody will react in a stressful situation even, and that goes for both your employees and the person committing the robbery.
However, crime prevention professionals do recommend that employees who find themselves in the midst of a robbery should do the following:
- Cooperate with the robber: The best thing you can do is listen to the robber and do precisely what they tell you to do. The attacker is probably as nervous as you are and you don’t want to make the situation worse by not following orders. Give them what they are asking for and try to remain as calm as possible.
- Don’t make any sudden moves and keep your hands in sight: Whatever you do, make your hands visible to the attacker at all times. If you need to reach out for something, notify the robber first and wait for their approval.
- Only trigger the panic alarm when you are sure it’s safe: If your workplace has a panic button that alerts police, do not try to reach it until you are absolutely sure the robber cannot see you or until they leave the premises.
- Try to get a good look at the robber: The more details you notice, the easier it will be to describe the robber to the police later. Try not to stare but to observe distinctive features when talking to the robber or when they are looking the other way or leaving the premises.
- If safe, try to see the robber’s vehicle and escape direction: Once the attacker leaves, try to approach the window and see the make and model of the getaway car and the license plate if possible. If you don’t feel safe about doing that, try to at least note the direction in which the robber went.
Once the robber has fled, here’s what you should do next:
- Lock the door and call the police: Prevent the robber from coming back in before calling for help. Call the police, carefully listen to their instructions, and calmly wait for them to arrive.
- Do not disturb the crime scene: Try not to move any furniture or touch any surfaces where the attacker could have left fingerprints or DNA.
- Ask witnesses to stay: Police will need as much information as they can get and the witnesses could have noticed something that you didn’t. Note that witnesses can only stay on a voluntary basis, you can’t make anybody stay against their will.
- Record the details you noticed about the robber: Jot down everything you remember so the police can have a better chance of identifying the perpetrator. Characteristics such as height, build, skin color, or any distinctive features or accents could help catch the perpetrator.
How Insurance Can Help
Insurance cannot prevent robberies or any other types of commercial crime from occurring, but it can certainly help you deal with the consequences.
For example, if damage was done to your property during the robbery, a commercial property insurance policy would kick in to cover the costs of repairing or replacing what was broken. It would cover damage to the building, product inventory, furniture, and even signage. It would also cover the cost of replacing your property if it’s stolen.
However, the most important policy in the case of a robbery would be a commercial crime policy. When your business has commercial crime insurance, your monetary and other losses that result from any kind of criminal activity are covered. This includes employee theft, burglary, fraud, counterfeiting, embezzlement, and, of course, robbery.
Embroker’s crime policy is especially robust and even pays for employee counseling services in the case of a robbery, enabling businesses to provide the proper support to any employees experiencing stress or other emotional impact related to the incident.
If you’d like to learn more about our fully digital commercial crime policy or any other business insurance coverages, feel free to reach out to one of our expert brokers at any time.
What does a commercial crime policy cover and what do crime insurance claims typically look like?