The Albuquerque Police Department is committed to apprehending robbers in an effort to provide businesses a safe workplace environment. However, the business community can have a tremendous influence on preventing crime by creating policies and procedures that will discourage criminals from targeting the establishment. The concept of Community Policing has never been more important than it is today. Combining community and police cooperation in an effort to solve problems, share the responsibility of preventing crime, and establishing partnerships can create an environment that will reduce the threat of robbery and violence in the workplace. The following items are suggested to prevent crime before it occurs, reduce the threat of employee injury, and increase the probability of apprehending the offender.
Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED)
CPTED is a concept that considers the physical environment and its effect on crime prevention. There are four basic categories in CPTED.
- Natural Surveillance - People must be able to see illegal acts taking place to defend property or to prevent crime. Surveillance puts the offender under threat of being observed, identified, and apprehended.
- Territoriality - People have an innate desire to protect or defend space they occupy or work. Territoriality involves establishing ownership of space and can be encouraged by activities and management techniques that reduce large impersonal spaces to smaller spaces that people can personalize and protect. The use of pavement treatments, landscaping, signage, and fences will help to define and outline the property.
- Access Control - The placement of barriers to make it more difficult for potential offenders to commit crime. Limiting the number of ways to get on/off the property or structure as well as locks, windows, doors, fences, walls, landscaping, and security systems will prevent and discourage public access from unmonitored areas.
- Maintenance - A well-maintained space that appears to be "owned " by someone who cares about the property will attract legitimate law abiding users while discouraging illegitimate or disruptive users. A positive image is a significant deterrent to criminal behavior. All lighting, landscaping, graffiti, and trash/debris should be monitored and maintained daily.
(Note: Crime Prevention Specialists can conduct a security survey of the property that will focus on CPTED issues.)
- Develop a cash control/handling procedure that limits the amount of cash available. Have a system that requires employees to drop money in a secure place once the limit has been surpassed. Establish a disciplinary procedure for employees that violate this system. Let customers know you don't keep large sums of money available.
- Vary the time of bank drops and deposits.
- Develop a key control procedure that addresses distribution and retrieval. Monitor who has a key, for what purpose, and return when an employee leaves or the task is complete.
- Lock the doors at closing, even if customers are still present. Unlock the door for each customer as they prepare to exit the store.
- If the store operates late at night, limit access through a single door. If an access window is available, lock all doors and conduct business through the window.
- Notice suspicious behavior during operating hours. Focus on the interior and exterior of the facility. Examples of suspicious behavior include loitering outside, excessive restroom travel, and diversionary tactics.
- Report all suspicious behavior to the police. Call 911 for emergency's and 242-COPS for non-emergencies.
- Always have at least two employees working at all hours of operation. Having two people working is advantages during medical emergencies. It also creates a safer environment for staff and your store will be less of a target for offenders.
- Advise staff to walk to their vehicles with an escort or friend after hours. They should always let someone know when they are working late.
- Repair any broken or flickering lights, dimly lit corridors, doors that don't lock properly, or other maintenance issues as soon as possible. Ensure that lighting is adequate inside and out. Make your building visible from the street or sidewalk. Remove posters and signs from windows.
- Post emergency numbers and the address near each phone.
- Never write down safe or vault combinations or computer passwords.
- Make sure all equipment in the store has been engraved with an identification number.
- Keep your business neat and clean. Don't arrange displays and stock in a way that provides hiding places. Arrange displays so that visibility is good from the main work area and from outside.
- Contact APD Crime Prevention for a security survey and safety presentations.
- Adhere to the items listed under Robbery Prevention and apply the ones that are pertinent to shoplifting.
- Install convex mirrors in strategic locations that cover the areas not seen from the main work area.
- Install video surveillance cameras to monitor the point of sale and other important areas.
- Place probable shoplifting items near the point of sale or the front of the store.
- Practice active store management. Be active and move about the store when possible.
- Approach and make contact with customers that appear to be loitering. A simple "my I help you " can often deter shoplifting. Make customers aware that they have been noticed.
- Attempt to make eye contact with all customers as they enter the premises. Robbers and/or shoplifters don't want to feel someone could identify them.
During a Robbery
- Develop a checklist for employee responsibilities after an incident. Identify who will call the police, secure evidence, lock the doors, and advise employees not to share the experience with co-workers so they can provide an independent account of the event
- Be a good witness. Stay calm, alert, and aware of your surroundings. If possible, write down everything you remember. The more accurate the description, the more chance the police have to apprehend the criminal. Pay attention to the type and color of clothing, unique characteristics such as scars, tattoos, birthmarks, and mannerisms. Note the direction of travel in which the robbers fled. If they flee in a vehicle, be aware of the type and color and if possible, the license plate number.
- Always consider the individual armed and dangerous as well as under the influence of drugs/alcohol.
- Give the robber exactly what he/she wants. A robber will rarely hurt you unless you resist or provoke them.
- The object is to get the robber out of the store as soon as possible.
- Don't fight or chase the robber. Nothing is worth your life.
- Always tell the robber about surprises. They may resort to violence should they be startled.
- Let the robber make the first move. Keep your hands in plain sight. Never make sudden or unexpected movements. Never argue or play games with the individual(s).
- If you can't or don't know how to comply with their command, give the robber a clear and convincing reason. (Ex. "I don't have the combination to the safe.")
- Remember: Money and material items can always be replaced. Your health and safety cannot!
After the Robbery
- As soon as the robber leaves lock the doors immediately. Make sure you have an employee assigned to lock the doors, call 911, and go outside when asked by the radio operator to meet with the police.
- When you call 911, never hang up the phone until you are instructed to do so by the operator. The officer will advise Radio to make the call back. Don't put them on hold or hang up the phone.
- If you can safely observe the robber during his/her exit, get as much information as possible (see above).
- Make sure you cover any place the offender may have touched.
- If you have customers in the building explain to them what happened. If they want to leave, you cannot stop them. However, if they do leave, attempt to get their name, address, and phone number.
APD Crime Prevention (505) 244-6644