“Local restaurant robbed at gunpoint”

All too often, we hear these types of headlines on the nightly news. Restaurants are frequent targets, likely due to the early morning and late-night hours kept by such establishments. The ease of public access also puts restaurants at an increased risk.

Training your team how to react in a robbery situation is key, but it’s a topic that’s frequently overlooked. Here’s what restaurant operators need to know to best prepare their employees.

 

Robberies by the numbers

According to the FBI, there were nearly 284,000 robberies in the United States in 2014, with the average dollar value of property stolen landing at $1,227. Firearms were used in more than 40 percent of robberies, surpassed only by strong-arm tactics.

Unfortunately, data regarding the number of restaurant robberies is scarce. However, more than 52,000 of the robberies occurring in 2014 were classified as miscellaneous, which according to the FBI data, is how restaurants crimes are categorized.

Regardless of these numbers, a quick look at the news shows the importance of proper safety training. In less than one month, there have been eight Subway robberies reported throughout Kansas and Missouri. In 2014, a string of robberies targeting Asian restaurants occurred across eastern North Carolina, in which restaurant workers and their children were followed home, physically assaulted, and the nightly deposit stolen.

 

Robbery training and education

Each restaurant should have a written policy and procedure for robberies. In addition, consistent training and education – typically on a yearly basis – is critical too.

A robbery response plan is an excellent starting place for owners and operators, since it covers preventative measures as well as what to do during and after a robbery.

 

Preventative measures

There are several measures that can be taken to minimize security risks as well as the risks to your employees.

  • Make sure all entry doors are locked and the alarm is engaged once all patrons exit the building, even when staff remain to perform closing tasks.   
  • Regular walk-throughs of the restaurant during shifts, often by a manager, should be conducted to look for suspicious activity.
  • Install cameras both inside and outside the restaurant for easier monitoring and recording.
  • Walk-in freezers and coolers should have panic alarms and internal release mechanisms installed in case employees are locked inside during a robbery.
  • Ensure parking lots and entrances/exits are well-lit. If not, install additional exterior lighting.
  • Practice situational awareness by having employees enter and exit the restaurant in groups whenever possible.
  • Follow an alternate deposit schedule, where deposits are made daily during daylight hours and never at night. Daily deposits also minimize the amount of cash left on-site, preventing a larger loss in the event of a robbery.

 

If a robbery occurs

If a robbery does occur, your team’s safety is always more important than money. Encourage everyone to follow the instructions of the robbers and cooperate to the fullest extent. Hand over the money and contact the police right away once the robbers have left the property.

Remind employees to make mental notes of what each assailant looks like (height, build, etc.) as well as the plate number and make/model of any vehicles used.

If there’s one in your area, establishing a relationship with a local, trusted security firm is also wise. They can advise on crime trends in the area, identify weak links in your security plan, and often provide self-defense training for employees. For our Chicago-area clients, we use and highly recommend Extrity Services, whose staff is comprised of former military personnel, homeland security specialists, and off-duty police officers.  

When it comes to the safety of your employees, you can never be too prepared.

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How are you preparing your team to handle robberies? Has your restaurant experienced a robbery? Please tell me in the comments below!