Monday, May 29, 2017
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Robbery is a crime against the person and is a very frightening experience. By definition, “robbery” is the unlawful taking of property from someone by the use of force or the threat of violence. It can result in injury or even death to the victim.

Theft of property should not be confused with robbery. For example, shoplifting is not considered robbery. It is normally not an emergency situation that could endanger innocent citizens or officers. When reporting a crime, it is important that the correct type of crime be specified.


It is important to remember, in protecting your business from robbery, to take preventive measures and make it obvious that those measures have been taken. Every measure may or may not be applicable to every business; however, there are certain basic preventive measures that normally apply to all situations involving the handling of cash.

Here are some ways to discourage robbery:

  • -Lock unused doors, particularly side and back doors, to prevent access from the outside, but not emergency escape from the inside. Emergency escape from the inside is mandated by the Uniform Fire Code. The employee in charge of the business should be the only person with a key to these doors.
  • -Avoid working alone. If you must, turn on a hidden radio or TV so a potential robber will think there is someone with you. Maintain visibility throughout your business. Keep aisles clear of signs and displays that limit visibility. Make sure your cash register is clearly visible to passersby.Arrange the counter so that the customer, or robber, is visible from the street. Avoid placing signs or displays near windows that can block visibility from the street or to the street. A clear view enables passersby to view the interior of your business and employees in your business to observe any suspicious activities occurring outside the business. Robbers don’t like to be observed and the elimination of possible hiding places helps discourage them from targeting your business.
  • -Greet customers as they enter your business by making direct eye contact. This not only improves customer relations but it also sends a message every person entering your business that they have been observed.
  • -Keep your business well lighted. Poor lighting can limit visibility and create a darkened environment that may be inviting to a robber.
  • -Develop a cash control program. There is no better way to minimize the possibility of a robbery than by keeping the smallest amount of cash on the premises. No more than $50 should be kept in a cash register at any given time so if your business is robbed, you will reduce your loss. Post a notice of that fact in a location that is clearly visible to the public. Employees should not accept large bills during transactions. If cash must be maintained on the premises, store the cash in a locked safe and make frequent bank deposits. Display signs at entrances and exits indicating that the “safe requires secondary keys not in possession of employees.” Vary the schedule and route for your bank deposits each day. If possible use an armored car service for the bank deposits. If using an armored car service is not possible, take another person with you when making bank deposits.
  • -Record the serial number of the bottom bill in each bin in the cash drawer and instruct employees not to use these bills in making change.
  • -Keep “bait” money in a spare compartment of the cash register. The “bait” packet should be separated by face value from other bills. Keep a list of the serial and series year numbers to give to law enforcement if you are robbed.
  • -If your business runs an exceptionally high risk of robbery, you may want to invest in a bullet-resistant cashier screen. A screen “defuses” the robber’s threat.Other prevention measures may be equally effective at a lower cost.
  • -Advertise your security alarm system with signs in visible locations, particularly at the entrances to your business.
  • -Remain alert and watchful for suspicious activity. If you notice a suspicious person in the area of your business, report him or her to the police immediately. It is obviously far better to have the police contact a suspicious person and prevent a robbery.
  • -Be cautious about answering questions about your business or your business practices, e.g. opening and closing times, the alarm or security camera system, or how many employees are working at any given time.
  • -Take precautions when opening and closing your business. When opening the business, two employees should be present. One employee should enter the business, conduct a visual inspection, and signal the other employee whether or not it is safe to enter the business. Have one predetermined signal if the business interior appears safe and another predetermined signal if there appears to be trouble inside the business. When closing the business, check all the back rooms, restrooms, and closets to ensure that no one remains in the business.
  • -Develop a mutual aid system among business in your area. Agree to keep an eye on each other’s buildings and watch for any suspicious activities. Install a “buddy buzzer” alarm so you can signal your neighboring businesses to contact the police if you are robbed.
  • -Place colored tape markers at exits at heights of 5’6” to 6’2.” If you are robbed, you can get an accurate estimate of the suspect’s height as he/she leaves the business.
  • A robbery may be over in less than one minute! You need a quick eye to get a good look at the robber. That is why some businesses are placing hidden cameras behind the cash register and throughout the business.If your business has installed a security or surveillance camera system, be certain that it is in working order and is operating. In far too many robberies, when an attempt is made to retrieve surveillance videotape the victim informs the investigating officer that the surveillance system was not operating for any number of reasons, some as simple as not being positioned properly, attached to a power source, or even turned on.

If a robbery occurs:

  • Someone points a weapon at you and demands your money. What do you do? Remain calm. Cooperate with the robber. Don’t fight or argue. Robbers usually do not hurt people who are willing to cooperate. Give the money or property to them. Remember, never refuse a robber. You can replace money or property. You cannot replace your life. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING FOR YOU TO DO IS SURVIVE!
  • Don’t try to persuade the robber to surrender. Once a robber is started it is too late for the robber to change his or her mind.
  • If you have a silent alarm and can reach it unnoticed, use it. Otherwise, wait until the robber leaves. Use your alarm with care and use it only when reasonable and necessary! Be aware that if the police respond to a silent alarm and the robber is still inside your business, a hostage situation is possible.
  • Excessive false alarms can cause problems for the police and you. Always report non-life threatening crimes over the telephone.
  • If possible and reasonably safe to do so, signal other employees. Have a pre-arranged signal for such emergencies. Again, if the robber might notice your signal, wait. Try to avoid sudden movements. Many robbers are as nervous as you are. Try to keep the situation and the robber as calm as possible.
  • Tell the robber about any possible “surprises” such as another employee working in a back room. Tell the robber if you must move in a way that he or she might not anticipate.
  • Don’t chase or follow the robber, particularly if you arm yourself after you report the robbery. The police might mistake you for the robber.
  • The most important thing to do if you are robbed is to be a good witness. Develop a mental picture of the robber so that you can provide an accurate description. The description of the robber you provide to the police might be the only information available to solve the crime.

After a robbery:

  • Call the police immediately. Call 9-1-1.
  • Lock the doors so the robber cannot re-enter the business. Close your business.
  • Encourage any witnesses, particularly customers, to remain at the business until the police arrive. If a customer must leave the business, attempt to gather identifying information, e.g. name, address, and telephone number, so that the police can contact the customer at a later time.
  • If reasonably safe, attempt to determine the direction in which the robber fled and if he/she entered a vehicle.
  • Keep everyone away from the surfaces/areas the robber may have touched to preserve possible physical evidence. Don’t try to clean up anything. Leave everything as it was when the robber fled.
  • If your business uses a security camera system, remember to tell the responding police that the crime and the robber may have been recorded on the surveillance system. Be certain that the surveillance videotape is not destroyed or recorded over by mistake.
  • It is sometimes easier to remember the description of a robber in a systematic way, working from the head to the feet. If you have difficulty determining the height, weight, or age of a robber, consider the height, weight, and age of the suspect in relation to a known person, for example your own height, weight, or age. If you can estimate how much taller/shorter, heavier/lighter, and older/younger the robber is in relation to your own height, weight, and age you may be better able to estimate the robber’s height, weight, and age
  • Write down everything you can remember about any vehicle that the robber may have used to flee the scene- manufacturer, model, year, color, style, and anything unusual about the vehicle, for example a loud muffler, distinctive body damage, or lowered frame.
  • Write down everything that you can remember about the robber and the crime- age, height, weight, ethnicity, color of hair and eyes, facial hair, scars, tattoos, accent, jewelry, clothing, and anything unusual about the robber or what he/she said or did.

If you need additional information regarding crime prevention measures for your business or yourself for a robbery or any type of crime, please contact Sergeant Gregg Meyer at 805/470-3218 or the Atascadero Police Department at 805/461-5051. If you would like to arrange for the Atascadero Police Department to conduct a security survey of your business or residence, contact the above listed individual.

Category: Crime Prevention

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