Robbery training often focuses on safety and compliance; give the robber what he or she wants, and stay safe. These are good things, and I would never suggest that non-security employees should take risks to prevent a crime or apprehend a perpetrator. These tasks should be left to security and law enforcement personnel. However, employees can and should be trained in the steps that they can take to prevent robberies and to aid law enforcement in apprehending a perpetrator after the fact. What follows are 5 steps that businesses can take to towards those ends.
I met a Security Officer from a small town bank whose institution had not been robbed in 100 years. It's not as if his town is free from crime, and it's not as if the bank hasn't been victimized by fraud. But no robbery.
He told me the secret to the bank's success, at least under his watch, is "the nosiest tellers" in the business. No one walks into one of his branches without being greeted in a matter of seconds, even if it's just to be told, "I'll be with you in just a minute." And when customers approach the Teller line, they are smothered with questions and generally talked up.
"People don't rob people that they like," this old pro told me. Some may dispute that, but the latest robbery prevention theories, reflected in programs such as SafeCatch, stress customer interaction as a proven deterrent to robbery. It was refreshing to learn that, for years, this veteran had been practicing what modern security experts are rediscovering; that a little down home personal attention can make the world a safer place.
Look for Suspicious Behavior
Suspicious behaviour can be confronted in a positive manner. For instance, if you are in a retail store where hats and sunglasses are prohibited, and a person walks in wearing one or both, engage them in an upbeat manner and explain that this policy is for their safety. At the same time, ask if they are looking for a particular product or service and offer to point them in the right direction. If this procedure is adopted consistently, many potential robbers will be deterred by the extra attention and many customers will appreciate the personal help.
Assume that Everyone is Armed
Just because someone doesn't look "armed and dangerous" doesn't mean that they aren't a threat. Business owners, especially those in retail, can easily get complacent.
I'm not encouraging you to be suspicious of everyone who walks through your doors, I'm just reminding you never to drop your guard. If you want a startling example of just how easy it is to conceal weapons, take a look at this video.
Provide First Hand Information
In the event of a robbery, law enforcement will need accurate, first hand information to aid in apprehension. Employees should be trained to look for concrete details such as facial features, distinguishing marks, tatoos, etc. Make it a policy, if possible, to have the person who was actually robbed to call 911 as soon as the robber leaves and the premise has been locked. The victim will often have the most useful details to pass on to law enforcement. You should do this even if you have an alarm system that automatically calls for help.
Point Your Security Cameras at the Right Spots
Your security cameras can only help you if they are pointed into the areas most likely to capture useful images. Not only should entrances and exits be covered by cameras, but every point of customer transaction should be under surveillance as well. I've dealt with the subject of camera coverage at length, so I will point you to my article on the Best Security Camera Locations for more detail.
Paying close attention to anyone who walks through your doors is not only good customer service, its good security.
The actions described in this article tie in with the CPTED principles of natural access control, territorial reinforcement and natural surveillance. They are ways of creating defensible space and letting potential offenders know that 'this is my place, you are not in control here.'