Armed robbery is one of the most serious and potentially dangerous crimes committed in Grand Cayman today. James Strawson of The Security Centre offers advice.
By decreasing the possible profit and increasing the risk of apprehension, potential victims can reduce their chance of becoming a target. Personal safety is always the most important consideration when planning how to react to an armed robbery. Although all businesses vary in their nature and layout, and not every security measure is implementable, this overview provides basic information that can and will diminish the chance of becoming a victim.
What to do before you are robbed
Businesses must face the possibility of robbery on their premises realistically, and they should give security training a high priority. Employees should be trained in the latest methods of robbery prevention, which will improve their chances for safety and their ability to provide information that could help in the apprehension of the criminal.
Opening and closing procedures should be established. These could include:
Have several employees present when opening and closing the business.
Inspect the business for forcible entry before entering the business.
Every business should operate with a cash protection system. Each employee handling cash should be trained in the various possible types of attack, and the employee should follow good cash handling practices. The cash system should work two ways by protecting both lives and money. Keep a minimum of easily accessible cash on hand, both in cash drawers and in the safe.
Use a money safe that requires more than one employee to open and remove daily receipts. Always lock money safes after the day’s operating funds are obtained.
Do not allow employees to count large amounts of cash in visible areas. Large amounts of money exposed to view represent a temptation not only to robbers but to employees and customers.
Exercise plenty of precautions when making bank deposits. These include:
Try to make bank deposits during daylight hours with more than one person.
Vary the route to the bank.
Do not make any stops along the way.
Vary the time of day the deposit is made.
Disguise the currency bags in plain wrappings or in another container (i.e., brief case, etc.)
Vary the personnel doing the deposit, if possible.
Vary the vehicle used.
Request armed police or security guard protection when handling or transporting large amounts of money.
Physical security measures
Maintaining a well-lighted interior visible from the street. Make sure signs, displays, plants, etc. do not obstruct the view from the street of the customer service area. Maintaining visibility into the business establishment at all times is important.
Physical barriers such as bullet-resistive enclosures (ballistic glass, ‘polycast-acrylics’ or ballistic window film) between customers and employees provide the greatest protection for workers.
Prominently displayed surveillance camera equipment. Be sure to have the equipment serviced regularly and all staff are knowledgeable of DVR functions.
A silent alarm system. This alarm system could incorporate a daytime holdup feature that reports to a remote supervised area. Make sure employees know how and when, and when not, to activate the alarm.
Maintain good exterior lighting. All shrubbery and trees, that a criminal could use to hide, should be cut back and maintained.
Maintain a list of emergency contact telephone numbers near the telephone. Have witness description forms available for employees and witnesses to complete after a robbery has occurred.
Vary lunch hours and coffee breaks so several employees are always on duty.
Employees should be trained to watch for and report suspicious actions of people inside and immediately outside the premises. Don’t hesitate to call the police when worried about a potential risk.
Require employees ask for the identification of workers, repair people, guards, police officers, etc. before permitting entry into secured areas.
The counter or work area should be cleaned regularly to remove old fingerprints. This increases the possibilities that a robber may leave a readable print behind. Oil or wax based cleaners should not be used.
Procedures during a robbery
Proper employee training of the procedures to follow during a robbery is vital to surviving the confrontation. Conduct documented training and discussion periods so that every employee knows their part and has an opportunity to ask questions. A few minutes of brief review on a regular basis will help to insure the proper reaction in case of a robbery.
Do not resist the robber. The money is not worth risking a life. Take no action that would jeopardize the safety of personnel or customers.
Do not use or encourage the use of weapons against the robber and
try to inform him of any surprises. If someone is expected back soon, tell the robber what to expect so they will not be startled.
Try to keep customers and employees calm during the robbery. – have managers ‘lead by example’ as fear is contagious.
If the robber displays a firearm or claims to have one, consider it loaded and that they would use it.
Activate the holdup alarm, if possible, only if it can be safely done without being obvious to the robber.
Make mental notes of the following:
The number of robbers.
The robber’s physical characteristics, including: race, sex, age, height, weight, facial (though sometimes masked) characteristics (head shape, color of hair, color of eyes, shape of eyes, nose and mouth, etc.) speech patterns (i.e., accents), scars, marks and/or deformities, right or left-handed.
The robber’s clothing description.
Any names used by the robbers.
Procedures after the robbery
Establish which personnel will take certain actions if a robbery occurs. Decide now which employee will lock the doors, who will call the police, who will care for the injured, who will look for the getaway car, who will protect the evidence, etc.
Do not chase or follow the robber.
Secure the doors ASAP so the robbers cannot re-enter the store.
Call the police immediately. Be sure to tell them if anyone is injured so they may dispatch medical personnel if necessary.
If it can be safely accomplished as the robbers leave, try to note their method of escape along with the direction of travel.
If a vehicle is used, try to find out the make, colour, type, licence number and the state of registration. Try to preserve evidence and write down the description of the robber.