Information sent on behalf of West Yorkshire Police
This Community Alert is for the attention of business workers and owners.
The definition of robbery:
A person is guilty of robbery if he or she steals and immediately before or at any time of so doing, and in order to do so, uses force, or puts or seeks to put any person in fear of being then and there subjected to force. In summary, robbery is stealing aggravated by violence.
The main types of retail robbery:
From the police point of view, robbery covers a wide range of incidents from playground bullying to armed robberies at banks and building societies.
From your point of view as a retailer, the crime takes a wide variety of forms, but most incidents can be grouped into one of the following types.
Questions an offender may consider when preparing for an attack
• How many staff will be present? • How remote is the location? • Where are the tills situated? • How long will it take to get access to cash/goods? • What is the likelihood of witnesses being present? • Will there be enough money/goods available to make it worthwhile?
What to do to reduce the risk of a robbery
Using the advice below, conduct a thorough risk assessment to identify any vulnerabilities. THINK LIKE AN OFFENDER. Write down any actions for you to carry out. Look at security products and services appropriate for your business and ensure you obtain 3 written quotes from established companies who are affiliated to an industry authority.
Be ALERT! ACTIONS
• Keep an eye out for anything unusual. • Be aware of people hanging around inside or outside. If you are aware of someone hanging around, make eye contact and ensure they know you have seen them. • Be suspicious of vehicles watching your premises. Write down the registration, number of occupants, colour, make and model etc. • Be suspicious of customers asking questions about your security or routines. • Use positive body language and make eye contact with anyone who’s acting suspicious.
• Review opening procedures to avoid routine where feasible. • Use at least two members of staff to open up. Alternatively, ask a neighbouring business or someone you trust to assist. • At least one person should wait a safe distance from the premises whilst another opens up. • Always check the street and premises before entering, look for any forced entry or suspicious people or vehicles. • When opening the premises, enter quickly and lock the door behind you. DO NOT leave the door unlocked or engage in conversation with anyone whilst the door is partly open. • Don’t leave keys on display. Visibility • Consider places around the premises where someone could hide, such as trees, shrubbery, alleyways, stairwells etc. • Remove posters and obstructions to shop windows to ensure that you can see outside and passers-by can see inside. • Leave entry doors clear to allow a view of who is entering. • Install mirrors to increase surveillance around your store. • Ensure lighting and good quality CCTV with audio is utilised both inside and outside to reduce concealment spots. • Ensure you have correct signage.
Staff levels • If only one staff member is working ensure that a telephone is in easy reach for emergency situations. • When there is more than one staff member working, be in the public view as much as possible and stagger lunch breaks. • Lock the door if the customer area is left unattended. • Always check references of new staff. • Introduce clear policies and procedures. It is important to practice scenarios with new and existing staff regularly.
Managing cash ACTIONS
• Restrict access to counters and tills. • Always keep cash and high-value goods out of public view. • Keep as little cash as possible in the till by regularly transferring excess cash to somewhere safe and out of sight. • Vary the times of balancing and banking if done during trading hours and avoid counting cash in anyone else’s view. • If cash is carried to a bank, use plain clothing and be extra vigilant at ALL times. • Remove all cash from premises when closed and keep tills open and empty.
• Vary the times your staff travel to and from work to avoid routine. • Is it necessary for staff to wear uniform, name badges or ID on the way to and from work? • Acknowledge everyone who enters. Make eye contact to indicate you have seen them. • Smile and be pleasant – this could act as a deterrent to some offenders. • Any suspicious customer behaviour should be noted, including the date and time they were in the premises, and any areas of the shop they appeared particularly interested in.
• Never discuss staff levels, banking times, details of key holders, cash holding or collection in front of customers – you never know who is listening. • Never discuss sensitive information in public: pubs, restaurants, bus stops, trains etc. • Be aware of suspicious questions from customers; don’t give out unnecessary information. • Remember not to leave any confidential information on view around your premises.
• Review closing procedures to avoid routine where feasible. • Encourage customers to leave when closing, to avoid people hanging around unnecessarily. • Never allow entry to anyone after you have closed, no matter the reason. • If a visitor claims to be from any authority, ask for identification and check it thoroughly. • Always view the street before leaving and, if possible, leave with someone else. • When leaving: lock the door, leave quickly and lock the door behind you. DO NOT engage in conversation with anyone with the door partly open.
Managing stock and store layout ACTIONS
• Consider stock placement, keeping high value goods away from doors or using dummy stock. • Carry out regular stock takes. • Ensure that store layout maximises surveillance opportunities. • Keep shelf heights low so staff can see shoppers clearly. • Install wide counters and think about the position of the tills in relation to entrances/exits. • Display prominent signage “time delays in operation”, “no money left on premises” and/or “24hr monitored security CCTV”, but ensure this practice is actually followed.
• Quickly repair any damage or graffiti to signs, property or equipment. • Install a burglar alarm and personal attack alarm. • Think about strengthening doors and windows to help prevent a forced entry attack. • Consider installing security grilles or shutters on doors and windows. • Use coded locks on doors, staff rooms etc. • Do you have a forensic spray or a fog machine? These can be rented. Secured by Design products are recommended highly by Police Forces. • Place pictures on walls to help identify the height of suspects from CCTV footage. • Consult with your local Crime Prevention Officer who can provide bespoke advice.
• Link up with other businesses in your area – share information and crime prevention tips. • Keep an eye on neighbouring businesses and ask them to do the same for you. • Join or form a Business Watch Scheme or a Business Crime Partnership. • Keep in touch with your local PCSO, Police Officer or security management.
What to do if a robbery takes place
Remain calm: • Take NO risks. • Do as you’re told by the offender and avoid any sudden movements or noises. • Do not retaliate – property can be replaced.
Think safety: • The safety of you, your customers and staff is paramount. • If you are not directly involved then keep away and stay out of sight.
Raise the alarm: • If your premises has an alarm system use it, but only if safe to do so. • If you have a safe opportunity dial 999.
Descriptions: • Keep calm and try to remember as much as possible about the offenders. • Think about age, height, build, clothing, accents, words, phrases etc. • Pay particular attention to distinguishing features – tattoos, scars, warts or blemishes.
What to do following a robbery
Close your business immediately: • STOP trading and lock all the doors, ask any witnesses to wait for Police to arrive. If they can’t then take their name, address and telephone number. • Write down as much as possible about what happened, the description of the offenders, weapons, vehicles and in which direction they fled. • Do not discuss descriptions with anyone else as it may cause confusion.
Help customers or staff: • Has anyone been injured? • Is anyone suffering from shock?
Don’t touch anything: • Do not touch or move anything, make a note of anything the suspects have touched. • Preferably, items used by an offender should be left in situ and only be touched by trained officers. • If there are any items outside of the premises that you feel may be used in evidence, do not remove or handle them. If they need protecting from the elements place something like a box, container or bin lid over them and wait until the Police arrive. Do not use any items that would compromise the evidence by touching it and creating an unsterile environment. • Restrict movement around the premises, in order to ensure that evidence such as fingerprints, hair, saliva, bodily fluids, footprints or tools used in the offence are not compromised.
Secure any CCTV images: • Do not watch the footage, but tell police that CCTV exists.
Being involved in a robbery is a very traumatic experience. Different people cope in different ways, but it is impossible for anyone to remain totally unaffected. If you or a colleague need help contact the Victim Support Helpline on 0808 16 89 111 or visit www.victimsupport.org.uk. Alternatively, speak to your GP who may be able to refer you for counselling.
Message sent by
Amy Brown (Police,PCSO,Leeds District Inner South Team 2)