What’s the worst that could happen?

Oct. 7, 2011 | by D. B. "Libby" Libhart
What’s the worst that could happen?

Last Friday, an employee of Long John Silver’s in Jackson, Mich., opened the back door to take out the trash after closing. He was confronted by two men wearing bandanas, one with a gun. A friend of the employee who was waiting in the parking lot for his friend to get off work got involved. The employee and his friend were both assaulted. The suspects then entered the restaurant through the back door and confronted the manager at gunpoint. They demanded cash and exited through the back door. The employee and his friend were treated and released from the local hospital. Police are investigating the incident.  

Unfortunately, this scene plays out somewhere each night in the world of retailers and restaurants. A world serving the public, late at night with predators lurking, waiting and plotting to take advantage of every opportunity to forcibly rob others' hard earned cash. Crime prevention solutions cost virtually nothing other than implementing changes in policy, routines and discipline.

Opening of the back door exposes the business to cash and product losses and the employees to serious crime, including homicide. Opening it at night greatly increases the chances of bad things happening. Yet it is one of the most serious breaches and most often violated of all security policies, assuming that such a policy exists. It is a virtual weak link that can be turned into one of the strongest bonds in creating a safer and more secure environment for customers and employees when executed properly.

Unfortunately, back door security is often overlooked until something really bad happens. The robbers were lying in wait for the nightly ritual of taking out the trash after closing. This wasn’t a random act. It was staked out and planned. The robbers were prepared as is the case in most late night back door robberies.

Questions rising from this incident:

  • Does the company have a policy on opening the back door after dark?
  • If there is a policy, was it ignored or was the employee untrained?
  • Does the company have a policy on controlling the keys to the back door?
  • If there was a policy, was it ignored or was the employee untrained?

There are best practice solutions in taking out the trash late at night. Many companies have administered effective policies and procedures and maintain compliance in back door security. Others have such policies but over time compliance becomes eroded when “nothing happens” and short cuts become prevalent. Still others have no policies whatsoever on security of the back door. 

During discussions with managers and employees on this issue I ask one question: “When you open the back door late at night, what’s the worst thing that could happen?” The usual answer is, “I could be robbed.” Not the answer I am looking for.

If they follow procedures and nothing happens, non-compliance may develop. So, I ask the question again, emphasizing one word. “I asked you what’s the WORST that could happen.” After a few seconds, the response is usually, “OH!” After they make connection that they could be killed, compliance of back door security is no longer an issue.

If you have ineffective policies and procedures on back door security, or none at all, contact a loss prevention professional. They can help you with not only back door security, but with a comprehensive plan to keep your employees and customers safer and more secure. It’s a great investment and will help you sleep better at night.

Topics: Insurance / Risk Management, Loss Prevention, 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. wwwView D. B. "Libby" Libhart's profile on LinkedIn

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