Making Sure Your C-Store is Secure
In the ‘80s, ‘90s and early 2000s, the FBI took great strides in educating and protecting c-store chains from crime. In recent years, many new 'Mom and Pop' single owner stores have emerged into the c-store industry. Without the proper knowledge and resources, these stores have become vulnerable to crime, especially those choosing to operate 24 hours a day.
What Can Happen?
The FBI released information stating that c-store robbery has increased 16.8 percent from 2014 to 2015. This means that criminals are getting smarter, and c-store owners need to learn the basics of crime prevention and simple ways they can deter criminals from hitting their store. There are a few different ways in which your store can be attacked. It is important to know the difference between these crimes, so you can identify and be able to take the correct course of action.
- in-store cash or machine robberies; often happens with two or more individuals working together
- food, drink, and other product theft; typically, one person who has spent a lot of time in the store and will often buy one very inexpensive item to throw off suspicion
- card skimming or gas pump fraud; this occurs outside of the store as someone adds a device inside or outside of your fuel pumps
Although there are many ways in which criminals can go about stealing from your c-store, the best thing that you can do is be prepared and stay aware of what is happening in your store at all times.
Protecting and Educating Employees
When preparing your c-store make sure that the safety of your employees is your first priority. To deter violence during a robbery it is essential that you and your employees do not engage or attack the intruder. It is important to comply and mentally take notes of the attacker so that you can inform the police with important information that may aid in identifying them.
Make sure that employees are checking their cash drawers, and that they roughly know how much is there. The store's cash count within the registers should always remain low, so the loss will never be more than $100. It could also benefit you to implement a drop safe and having employees post signs stating that the amount of cash within the store is limited. If you have an alarm system, ensure that every employee knows how to set and operate it. Always keep it armed when there is no-one in the store or during times only the fuel pumps are open.
You also need a surveillance system to monitor and protect your store. Having visible and hidden cameras that are always recording can help with arrests and convictions should criminals attack your store. Employees should have constant access to these cameras, so they can monitor suspicious behavior and contact the police before an incident may occur if they are able. Employees must understand the importance of always being alert and knowing exactly who is on the store’s property at any given time.
Deter Criminals with Preventative Measures
There are many different resources you can use to help educate you on how to protect your store before a crime occurs. Start with your store design and keep windows clear, inside and outside areas well lit, and keep merchandise and shelving low so there is nothing obstructing the view of the parking lot or inside of the store. Make sure you have outlined your store's property using landscaping, fences, and signs. This will help to discourage people wanting to loiter or hang out that have no intentions of being your customers.
Take measures to control the number of people that are on your property at any given time. Limit the number of ways customers can get into your store and parking lot if you are able, "criminals want to blend into the surroundings after committing crimes". So, you do not want to offer too many escape routes or possible attack points. Funneling traffic through one entry prevents criminals from easily planning quick get-aways, thus deterring potential robberies. By anticipating the exits or paths intruders may take to flee the scene and limiting access to the store during high-risk hours, you can greatly decrease the likelihood that your store will become the sight of a robbery. You can also install gates or locks on your property to help reduce break-in attempts.
Knowing how to keep your employees safe and your business protected is vital when owning a c-store. Taking preventative measures and educating your employees will help them understand the risks and make sure the right course of action is taken if your c-store becomes the target of crime.