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12 best practices to help prevent robbery and theft in brick-and-mortar storefronts

Ensuring the safety and security of your brick-and-mortar storefront is of utmost importance in today's world, where the threat of robbery and theft looms large
Burglary at retail store with looters breaking in and causing destruction. Concept Suspicious Activity, Theft, Vandalism, Retail Security, Crime Prevention

Ensuring the safety and security of your brick-and-mortar storefront is of utmost importance in today's world, where the threat of robbery and theft looms large. In 2022, shoplifting rates saw a significant increase of 31% compared to the previous year, as reported by Statistics Canada. The Retail Council of Canada (RCC) has stated that some of its members have experienced a staggering 300% rise in thefts since 2020, resulting in estimated annual losses of $5 billion.

To help ensure the safety of both employees and customers, as well as minimize the risk of robbery and theft incidents in storefronts, it is essential to implement effective risk management practices. Here are some best practices to consider:

  1. Employee training and awareness: Provide comprehensive training to employees on robbery prevention, recognizing suspicious behavior, and responding to robbery situations. This includes teaching employees how to de-escalate potentially dangerous situations and comply with robbers' demands. Encourage employees to report any security concerns or incidents promptly.
  2. Security measures: Install a comprehensive security system, including surveillance cameras, alarms, and access control systems. Regularly maintain and test security equipment to ensure optimal functionality. Place visible signage indicating the presence of security measures to deter potential criminals.
  3. Access control: Limit access to sensitive areas, such as stockrooms and cash handling areas, to authorized personnel only. Use key card systems or secure locks to control access.
  4. Emergency preparedness: Develop and regularly update an emergency response plan that includes procedures for handling robberies or thefts. Train your employees on these procedures to ensure a swift and coordinated response. Conduct regular drills to ensure employees are familiar with emergency protocols. Establish a communication system to alert employees and authorities in case of an emergency.
  5. Store layout and visibility: Design the store layout to maximize visibility, minimizing blind spots and obstructions. Keep aisles and walkways well-lit to deter criminal activity. Use mirrors strategically to enhance visibility in blind spots.
  6. Lighting: Maintain adequate lighting both inside and outside the store. Well-lit areas deter criminals and make it easier to identify suspicious individuals or activities.
  7. Cash handling procedures: Limit the amount of cash on-site by implementing frequent cash drops and maintaining a low cash float. Use drop safes or time-delayed safes to secure cash during business hours. Train employees on proper cash handling procedures and the importance of vigilance.
  8. Customer service and engagement: Implement a customer service approach that focuses on engaging customers and providing assistance. Train employees to greet and acknowledge customers, as this can deter potential criminals. Maintain a visible presence on the sales floor to deter theft and create a sense of security.
  9. Collaboration with law enforcement: Establish a positive working relationship with local law enforcement agencies. Share information on suspicious activities or individuals with law enforcement when necessary. Participate in crime prevention programs and initiatives offered by local law enforcement.
  10. External environment: Maintain clear visibility around the store by trimming shrubs and trees near entrances and windows. Ensure parking areas are well-lit and monitored by surveillance cameras. Collaborate with neighboring businesses to share information and enhance security measures.
  11. Continuous improvement: Regularly review and update your security measures based on changing risks and emerging technologies. Stay informed about new trends in theft and robbery prevention to stay one step ahead.
  12. Inventory management: Implement effective inventory management practices, such as regular stock checks and inventory reconciliation. This helps identify any discrepancies or potential thefts promptly.

While all these best practices are important, the prioritization may vary depending on the specific circumstances and needs of your business. It is important to assess your unique risks and tailor your risk management strategies accordingly.

In the event of a robbery or theft in a store, it is important to prioritize the safety of employees and customers. Here are some general emergency procedures to consider:

  • Stay calm: encourage everyone to remain calm and avoid any actions that may escalate the situation
  • Do not resist: instruct employees and customers not to resist the robber or thief. Compliance is crucial to minimize the risk of harm
  • Activate alarms: if your store has a panic button or alarm system, activate it discreetly to alert authorities
  • Observe and remember details: encourage employees and customers to pay attention to the robber's appearance, actions, and any other relevant details that can assist law enforcement later
  • Call the police: dial emergency services immediately to report the incident. Provide them with accurate information about the situation, including the location and a description of the suspect(s)
  • Lockdown procedures: if possible, implement lockdown procedures to secure the store and prevent the robber or thief from leaving
  • Follow instructions: if the robber or thief demands specific actions, such as opening a safe or cash register, comply with their demands to ensure everyone's safety
  • Preserve evidence: avoid touching any items or surfaces that may have been touched by the robber or thief to preserve potential evidence for law enforcement
  • Offer support: after the incident, provide support and assistance to employees and customers who may be shaken or traumatized by the event. Consider offering counseling services if necessary

Risk management practices and safety measures should work hand in hand to help mitigate the risk of robbery and theft in stores. By implementing these best practices, you may protect your store's assets, minimize financial losses, and create a safer environment for employees and customers. For any questions, or if you would like to create a new or review/update an existing emergency response and evacuation plan, please contact your Marsh representative.