It’s 11:45 p.m. You’re in bed after a long day of work, your children’s after-school activities, etc. Sleep is the only thing you are thinking about when your phone rings. You answer and find out someone has robbed your restaurant.
People tend to take precautions after harm has been done. But why wait?
Mid-November 2010, the Mount Pleasant Police Department in South Carolina prepared a meeting to discuss a robbery that had just taken place. In a statement on their website from Officer Gary Jaster, he said each restaurant is responsible for their employee’s safety.
“Many experienced owners and managers feel that an armed robbery could never happen to them,” Jaster said. But unfortunately, that is far from the truth.
In a document by the Beverly Police Department (BPD) in Massachusetts, they say restaurants are vulnerable to this kind of crime as they may have a large amount of money on-site. The amount of cash in a restaurant should be kept to a minimum.
During closing time, it might be convenient to have only one person finish and lock up. But BPD explains no one should be left alone. They recommend using a “buddy system.”
For opening and closing, the BPD advises to use a “buddy system” so one employee can make sure everything is safe and secure inside when entering and outside when closing—while a second employee is there in case of emergency.
But first and foremost, emergency procedures should be posted in general areas. In a list of prevention tips from the Indiana Restaurant Association (IRA), it’s important to make sure robbery alarm switches are located in multiple areas of the restaurant. (And if your restaurant doesn’t have these switches at all, it might be time to consider investing in them.)
IRA reminds owners to keep items where money is held (i.e. cash registers) in low visibility areas (if possible—depending on the type of restaurant you have.) It’s also beneficial to keep cash registers away from the street’s view—again, if possible.
They also bring up the following questions, “Are all outside doors equipped with locks and peepholes or windows?” and “Are all doors (except patron doors) kept locked during business hours?” Also, back areas (i.e. trash areas) should be well lit at night.
And for cash counting procedures, be sure standards are set and followed. Cash should only be handled inside locked doors.
During a Robbery
IRA not only gives important prevention tips, but they also provide procedures for robbery situations.
Employees should be calm as possible. IRA says employees are to speak slowly and not take any heroic actions. No sudden movements should be made and when employees give over money, they should lay it down then slowly back away with hands in plain view at all times.
During the robbery, IRA explains employees should take very detailed mental notes of the suspect such as facial features, clothing, etc. Once the suspect has left, police should be contacted immediately then employees should write down everything they can remember as well as keeping anything the suspect has left behind for evidence.
Another frequent type of robbery in restaurants is employee theft. In the BPD’s document, they put out the reminder that this is the easiest type of robbery as the employees know where everything is. Employers should be aware of this and should set guidelines for their employees to prevent this type of behavior—and what to do for both employee and former employee theft.
While long, this blog is only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much information about restaurant robbery available. Below are the resources used for this blog that all restaurant owners should read in more detail. Also, restaurants should do as much research and training as possible so robberies are prevented—and if they do happen, their employees have the knowledge and training to get through it.