Before and After: Handling an On-premise RobberyApril 26, 2011 By: Robert Plotkin
Until you’ve had a gun pulled on you, it’s difficult to imagine how terrifying an armed robbery actually is. The brazen nature of the crime immediately suggests the perpetrators are desperate and inured to the risks involved. The unfortunate reality is that bars, nightclubs and restaurants — as high-profile, high-visibility cash businesses — are prime targets for armed robbery.
Do your employees know what to do in the event of an armed robbery? After the fact is the wrong time to address how they are to respond. To that end, this article includes some things they should know.
The operation is most vulnerable at closing when there is the most cash on hand and few people on-premise. As a precaution, it’s advisable that the manager on duty leaves the establishment with the other closing employees. There’s safety in numbers.
In the event of an armed robbery, instruct your staff to remain calm, alert and observant. Panic only heightens the danger involved. Emphasize that their safety and welfare is your primary concern. Money can be replaced, human life cannot. They are to follow the perpetrator’s commands completely and without hesitation. The robber should be told about other employees or customers on the premises. Someone unexpectedly interrupting the robbery in progress heightens the danger.
Employees should make slow, deliberate movements. Instruct them to tell the perpetrator in advance everything they are about to do and keep their hands within sight. If they need to place their hands where they can’t be seen, they should tell the perpetrator what they’re doing. Additionally, they shouldn’t stare directly into the robber’s eyes. It will heighten his anxieties and general state of paranoia. During a robbery, employees should open the cash drawer and back away, allowing unobstructed access to the money.
Employees are to avoid confrontation and cooperate fully with the robber. The employees should do nothing to increase the tension of the situation. Armed robbers typically are extremely nervous, jittery and feel the surging effects of adrenaline. The person also may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Any act of defiance may provoke a violent response.
While the robbery is in progress, employees should make note of the perpetrator’s physical characteristics, such as height, weight, eye/skin color, etc. Recognition of small, unchangeable details is extremely helpful to the police. They are to take note of any distinguishing features, such as a scar, mark or tattoo. Did the perpetrator speak with a lisp or have an accent? Did he walk with a limp? Was he is right- or left-handed? Even knowing what kind of jewelry the person was wearing can be helpful.
Information regarding the perpetrator’s weapon also is beneficial. Was the handgun a revolver or automatic? Did it have a long or short barrel? What color was it?
Finally, employees should be instructed not to follow the perpetrator. When he leaves, the employees should only attempt to see which direction he left in. If possible, they are to observe the make, model and color of his car and the license number.
Developing After-The-Event Procedures
The police should be contacted as soon as it’s safe to do so. It’s extremely important to leave the crime scene undisturbed. Avoid handling anything that the perpetrator may have touched, preserving any fingerprints left behind.
Before the police arrive, the manager or senior employee on-duty should get the names and addresses of all people present at the time of the robbery. Request that they remain until the authorities arrive. Also, it’s important that employees be debriefed the same evening if possible. Sometimes employees have second thoughts about becoming involved and cooperating with the police. Without the employees’ formal statements, prosecution is next to impossible.
Employees should be instructed not to discuss details of the incident until all questioning has been completed and give the police their complete cooperation.
Hopefully, these instructions will never come into play. But, as they say, better safe than sorry.