Holiday business crime prevention tips

Dec. 2, 2010 | by D. B. "Libby" Libhart

Typically crime increases during the holiday season, and stores and restaurants are not exempt. Unfortunately, dishonest people and criminals are attracted to cash businesses and resort to robbery, burglary, shoplifting, credit and gift card fraud, embezzlement, and theft.

The following are short reminders to protect you, your staff, and loyal customers from becoming a victim.

Robbery Prevention  
Take the time to review your policies and procedures with your staff on the correct ways to handle cash and deposits. Do not allow anyone to open the back door without authorization – and never after dark or before dawn. Train your staff on the “do’s and don'ts” in the event a robbery occurs.

Critical Period
The “critical period” is 2 hours before the business is closed to the public. Many robberies occur during this time because managers are often in the office completing paperwork and/or handling cash instead of being up front managing the business. Be an “up front” manager and instruct your crew and managers to call 911 if suspicious people are seen in the restaurant or on the lot. If your store or restaurant is equipped with portable panic hold-up alarms, keep an alarm with you at all times. If you have a drive-thru wear a headset to stay in communication.

Staggered Open/Close  
Use the staggered method of opening and closing procedures correctly. Do NOT assume that your managers are utilizing this method to open and close the restaurant. Check for compliance.

24 Hour Operations  
Use the staggered method of opening and closing the store or restaurant, or whenever employees are entering or exiting during the overnight shift. Do not schedule employees or managers to enter or leave in singles.

Sufficient lighting provides an added measure of security for your crew and customers. During the holiday season, leave the parking lot lights on throughout the night to provide additional security for your opening and closing crews.

Travel Paths
If you have a drive-thru, have managers wear headsets while completing travel paths to allow constant communication with other employees. If you have a personal panic hold-up alarm system, carry one with you.

Back Door 
The back door must be controlled by a manager. Avoid leaving the key in the back door alarm or where they are easily accessible. Do not lend keys to unauthorized employees. Keep the back door locked and alarmed when not in use.

Cash Drawer Skims  
Since robberies and cash thefts frequently occur at the front counter and drive-thru windows, skim cash from the registers every 2 hours, document appropriately and place in the safe.

Deposit Procedures
Do not carry deposit bags out in the open. Stagger your route to the bank. Ensure deposits are taken to the bank before dark. Validate deposit tickets daily.

Compare suspicious bills to a known “good” bill. With the new currency, a duplicate of the president’s face should appear in the blank area when held to the light. The denomination ($10, $20, $50 & $100) in the bottom right corner should change color when the bill is tilted back and forth. Counterfeit pens work well on the older currency. 

Authorized Access
Keep restricted areas locked. Challenge anyone in unauthorized areas, i.e. trash corral, back rooms, stock areas.

Area Inspections
Before closing, inspect bathrooms, storage areas, etc, for anyone left behind or hiding.

Check that the quick release lock in coolers and freezers are functioning properly so your employees can escape in the event they are locked in.

Security Systems
Check that all locks, alarms, cameras, video recorders, and detex alarms are tested and working properly.

Trim back trees blocking parking lot lighting and bushes covering windows. Reduce marketing window clings obstructing views from the street.

Report Crime
Report all crime on premises to your supervisor and police.


From LossBusters, we hope you all have a safe and prosperous holiday season!

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability , Operations Management , Staffing & Training

D. B. "Libby" Libhart / D.B. “Libby” Libhart has more than 30 years of experience in the loss prevention industry. He has provided security and safety leadership in retail settings such as department stores, drug stores and quick-service restaurants. Before launching his own company, LossBusters, Libby served as the Senior Director of U.S. Security and Safety for McDonald’s Corp. He entered the QSR industry with Taco Bell and subsequently YUM Brands.
www View D. B. "Libby" Libhart's profile on LinkedIn

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