How Secure is Your Establishment?

The unfortunate reality is that bars, nightclubs and restaurants — high profile, high visibility, cash businesses — are prime targets for armed robbery. The operation is most vulnerable at closing when there is the most cash on hand and the fewest number of 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.

The back of the facility is where your operation and employees are most vulnerable. Halogen security lights that illuminate the rear of the building and parking lot are an excellent deterrent. The area around the rear door should be free of anything behind which someone could hide.

Hold-up alarms, security video cameras and other security-related systems are effective and provide a measure of reassurance. These systems should be tested regularly to ensure that they are operational. Any equipment not in working order should be repaired immediately; its breakdown could be the result of criminal machination. Conspicuous notices should be posted that the premise is wired with an alarm system. This alone may prove to be a sufficient deterrent.

Bank deposits should be made daily, at different times of the day, and if possible, at different bank branches. Avoiding a predictable routine is paramount. An alternative to making bank deposits is to retain a bonded courier or armored car service. Never allow employees to make your business deposits.

Keep the amount of currency in the register to a minimum. Make numerous cash drops during the course of operations, pulling excess currency, usually large denominations, out of the register. This will lessen any potential loss; a drawer stuffed with cash attracts undue attention.

Front and rear doors should be locked at the earliest opportunity. Exterior signs should be turned off upon locking the front door, not just prior to departing from the operation for the night. Before closing, check all entry points and anywhere someone could hide in your business, including the stalls in the rest rooms.

Be suspicious of any unsolicited phone calls from a security company canvassing for sales prospects. Bona fide security companies don’t operate in this manner. The caller is more likely “casing” your operation, probing for weaknesses and hoping you’ll divulge security-related information.

The following security precautions should be considered:

• Always be alert during opening and closing times and exercise sound judgment. Call the police immediately if you find the doors unlocked upon opening the establishment. Do not enter the store alone prior to arrival of the police. Allow the police to completely check out the establishment.

• Do not unlock doors except during posted hours. Allow only known people inside before opening.

• When counting money the office door should remain closed and locked, and keep interruptions to a minimum. Never count money in public view.

• At no time during business hours should any employee leave the register or point-of-sale system unattended. Allow only "on-duty" employees in work areas. Keep the delivery, storeroom, liquor room and office doors closed and locked at all times.

• Be aware of any suspicious people loitering in or around your place of business. Be wary of people breaking large bills. If a bartender can easily cash a $100 bill, there must be a large amount of cash on hand, enough to risk a hold-up. Withdraw as much cash as possible before 11 p.m., leaving the rest to deposit after closing.

• Allow no one other than the employees on-duty to remain in the licensed premises after closing. Leave the cash drawer empty and open at night.

• If you terminate an employee who has copies of the keys and the alarm codes or if the employee resigns voluntarily, get the locks and codes changed immediately. Do not leave keys to the business where anyone unauthorized will have access to them.

• Do not keep more than one day's deposits on hand. Do not leave the deposit laying around. Get it to the bank, or leave it locked up. Do not leave the deposit in your car.

• Never schedule people to work alone in the store. This is a bad security risk. People observed to be working alone are prime targets for robbery.

• When closing for the night, make sure all doors and exits are locked. Check restrooms and storage rooms, etc., where a potential robber could hide or wait for you to close the store. Make sure all exterior lights are on and working properly. Ask that the employees leave in groups when the bar after closing.


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