While certain crime significantly increased over the last year, robberies were reported to decrease by 7.1 percent in the first half of 2020. According to the FBI’s preliminary Uniform Crime Report data, this decrease is due to mandated state shutdowns, physical distancing, and people choosing not to go out due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite the decrease in robberies, convenience store (C-Store) owners should not let their guard down when it comes to the safety of their store’s employees and customers.
Convenience store owners should always keep security top-of-mind by evaluating three different areas of their security: employee security, store security, and cash handling security. This means developing a comprehensive security plan, upgrading technology and physical features around the location to deter robbers, and optimizing the cash handling process. This article discusses how C-Store owners can improve their security in these three separate areas to ultimately deter robberies and be prepared in the event a robbery occurs.
Employee and customer security should always remain the top priority for all convenience store owners and managers. A safe environment is instrumental in maintaining a successful C-Store business. However, there are many pitfalls inside and outside of leadership’s control that can leave the store vulnerable to robberies.
While the C-Store industry often has a high employee turnover rate, leadership can counteract this by creating a regular training schedule. Training is one of the most important factors in reducing risk to both employees and customers in the case of a robbery. Leadership should develop and maintain a comprehensive security plan that employees should be held accountable to learn and follow. The comprehensive security plan should designate what employees should do in the event of a robbery, and how they can be prepared and aware of potential threats.
C-Store leadership should focus on training employees on how to acknowledge and report suspicious activity to a non-emergency police line instead of reaching for the panic button too soon. In the chance a robber sees an employee reach for the panic button, it could create a potential hostage situation. In the case that a robbery occurs, employees should be trained to fully cooperate with the robber by handing over money and obeying the robber’s orders. While the store can recoup the loss of merchandise or cash, they cannot recoup an employee or customer’s life. Once the robber leaves, employees should call the police immediately to report the crime. Employees should also be trained to take notes on everything they remember about the robber including any physical features as well anything they might have touched during the attack (door handles, product, etc.), to increase the chances of the police being able to make an arrest.
A comprehensive security plan doesn’t just include how employees should respond to threats or potential threats, but should also include what the store can do to deter robberies. Potential robbers often look for multiple escape routes when deciding if a convenience store is a good target. It is recommended that all doors stay locked besides the main entrance while any backdoors can only be unlocked from the inside of the building. C-Store leadership should also consider adding fencing around their property to limit the amount of escape routes a criminal could take.
Another way to deter potential robberies is by adding new technology that will better identify robbers and threats. In the event there is a robbery, updated cameras with higher quality recording capabilities and remote access will help law enforcement be able to identify suspects. In addition to being useful in catching robbers, cameras act as one of the strongest deterrents for robbers; knowing they might be able to be identified makes them think twice before potentially robbing a C-Store. Once the new surveillance technology is in place, make sure to advertise the security system. Owners should put signs throughout the store as a reminder and to deter criminals from potentially robbing the store.
Lastly, C-Store owners and operators should consider lighting and overall visibility as an important deterrent for criminals. To maximize visibility across the entire premise, use wide-angle mirrors in strategic locations and ensure counter displays are low. Lighting is also invaluable at increasing overall visibility during the evening hours. C-Store owners are encouraged to illuminate as much of their store and surrounding property as possible.
The last area of security that should be included in a comprehensive security plan is cash security and the processes surrounding cash operations in the convenience store. Robbers target convenience stores because they are generally open 24 hours a day and always have cash on-hand. Police have previously recommended to never show large denominations in the store, and not to hold too much cash in the register. They say C-Store staff should take multiple trips to the bank during the day to deposit cash, but never at the same time of day and never taking the same route. While this tactic is somewhat effective in reducing the cash in the register, it increases risk to the employee or manager. They could potentially get into a dangerous car accident or might even be attacked outside the store when they are going to deposit the cash.
The most effective way to reduce cash in the register while keeping your employees safe is by investing in a smart safe or cash recycling solution. Over the last few years, many C-Stores adopted cash recyclers like Loomis’ Titan R, because they are now small enough to fit comfortably underneath countertops or in smaller back offices but still offer the same automation capabilities as a smart safe. Loomis’ Titan R cash recycler is ideal for C-Store owners and operators looking to automate their cash operations in a safe and efficient way. Its scalable design is good for lower cash volume businesses like C-Stores, but it can manage cash volumes ranging from hundreds of dollars a day to tens of thousands of dollars a day. The Titan R also allows employees to make deposits and reconcile their tills at the beginning and end of every shift which eliminates the need for multiple high-risk runs to the bank throughout the day and cuts labor cost associated with the cash handling process.
To learn more about how a cash recycling solution can automate and optimize cash operations for your C-Store, please visit www.loomis.us/recyclers.
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