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What You Need to Know About Robberies

One of the big risks of operating a small business is robbery. Robbery is different from shoplifting or stealing because it involves the use of intimidation and/or violence toward the victim. Over 400,000 robberies occur each year, and many of them happen at businesses. It is important to create clear policies and procedures about how to help prevent and respond to robberies.


Armed robberies often happen during opening and closing times, as well as lunch breaks. Why? These are particularly vulnerable times due to low staffing and large amounts of cash on hand. Businesses that operate into the evening hours are often targets for the same reasons. The holiday season also increases the likelihood of robberies because of higher cash volume and large crowds that can preoccupy retail employees.

With that in mind, you can help prevent robberies by taking precautionary steps.

Be smart when handling cash. Robbers are after cash, so take necessary cash handling precautions to minimize risk and loss, such as:

  • Avoid having unnecessary amounts of money in your register.
  • Only keep the amount you need to conduct normal business and put everything else in a safe or transfer it to the bank.
  • Do not discuss cash levels and security procedures outside of work.

Don’t make predictable trips to the bank. Change up the times of your trips and your route.

Make your checkout area highly visible. Avoid fixtures or signs that can obstruct views of and from the register. These include large signs on your windows and doors, counter displays that are too high and fixtures that block people’s view from the outside. Invest in good lighting both inside and outside your building.

Look for forcible entry before entering the building. Also keep an eye out for people loitering as well as unfamiliar or suspicious vehicles. Report odd or suspicious activity to the supervisor.



During the Robbery

If it’s clear that the robber is only pursuing money or merchandise, avoid doing anything that will put you or others at risk.

  • Stay calm.
  • Do not resist.
  • Do not argue.
  • Obey the robber’s orders.
  • If you are not sure of what the robber is telling you to do, ask.
  • Give the robber the money.
  • Do not make any sudden moves.
  • If you must reach for something or move, tell the robber what to expect.
  • Do nothing that will agitate, threaten, surprise or startle the robber.
  • Do not chase or follow the robber.
  • Focus on remembering details about the individual:
    • Hair color
    • Height
    • Weight
    • Voice
    • Age
    • Clothing
    • Distinguishing marks: tattoos, scars, etc.
    • Noticeable traits: limp, accent, glasses, uses left or right hand, etc.
    • What did he or she touch, so you can preserve it for fingerprints?
    • Do not touch anything that may have fingerprints

After the Robbery

Immediately check everyone for possible injuries. Then follow these steps:

  1. Call the police right away.
  2. Close and secure the building until the police arrive. This procedure will help preserve the scene of the crime for fingerprints and other physical evidence.
  3. Preserve any notes that the robber may have written, such as a request for money/valuables.
  4. Each employee involved in the incident should write down his or her own description of the robber. Employees should not confer with other witnesses or compare notes.

No one wants to think about being robbed or stolen from, but as a business owner, you need to prepare for these possible scenarios so you are not caught off guard.

© 2024 GuideOne Insurance. GuideOne® is the registered trademark of the GuideOne Insurance Company. All rights reserved. This material is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to give specific legal or risk management advice, nor are any suggested checklists or action plans intended to include or address all possible risk management exposures or solutions. You are encouraged to retain your own expert consultants and legal advisors in order to develop a risk management plan specific to your own activities.