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15 ways to secure quick-service retail environments

6. Light up garbage and dumpster areas that are the path of travel for employees taking out the trash. If the employee is working alone to close a store and taking out the trash along a dark path with the store keys, or back door left open to get back in, this is an invitation for robbery and, in the very worst case, even murder. Ideally, if one person has to do the trash removal, bag it, seal it and wait until the morning manager comes in to discard it.

7. Cooperate with the police during investigations. Stonewalling investigators is never a good policy and only suggests an internal level of theft of corruption. Accept their invitation for security analysis and review as a step in getting better patrol coverage.

8. Notify the public with signs that say the premises are being monitored and recorded by video surveillance to create a sense of security. This can also include the use of live, public-view monitors, as in this case.

9. Don’t use dummy cameras. If a situation arose that the line of sight of a fake camera would have captured a crime and the real ones did not, there is going to be an easy case for premises security negligence, because the owner has created the illusion of security. Employees and store managers should be familiar with how the camera system works and be able to record an incident on a disk or computer file to assist police in their investigation.

10. Turn off the free open network WiFi system after hours to eliminate loitering and non-customers using the system. The WiFi acts as an attractive magnet for activity; additionally, if televisions are used in stores, turn them off when the store is closed for the same reason.

11. Be conscious of CPTED features that impede on natural surveillance and lines of sight, such as landscaping and planting features; lighting; earth berms that are between the front of the store and the street; and alcoves and hiding spots in the rear areas of the store.

12. Provide sufficient security lighting along the exterior of store on all exposed sides. Stores located within mall structures can still add additional lighting beyond the common area lighting provided by the tenant. If the store is a standalone store, then lighting must be considered for the parking areas and all exterior sides of the store. After-hours lighting should be downgraded but still sufficient to facilitate surveillance by police or security patrols. Interior lighting after hours should be downgraded, but motion sensors should be able to activate alarms and lights for increased surveillance, and to act as a deterrent.

13. Advertise no cash on the premises. Like convenience stores, there should not be more than $50 in the register at any one time. Excess cash should be placed in a drop safe or placed in the store vault or secured safe.

14. Adjust air-conditioning vents so they are not blowing directly on front display windows. This can cause condensation that fogs up the glass and prevents natural surveillance — with no view inside the store from the outside. Vents can be adjusted or dispersed, or the temperature can be adjusted to change the dew point within the store. Additionally, product displays, posters and advertisements in windows should not obstruct visibility into and out of the store.

15. Follow corporate guidelines and recommendations as the industry standard of care.


Regional Recommendations

Many states have their own retail security recommendations, procedures and best practices. The Florida Convenience Business Security Act, for example, requires that convenience franchises offer training in robbery deterrence; have a drop safe that weighs at least 500 pounds; post notice at the entrance that the cash register contains less than $50; and that window sign placement allows unobstructed views of sales transaction areas from inside and outside the building. Additionally, the act includes a written cash policy that limits cash on hand in late night hours and requires a silent alarm.


The Franchisor’s Role

According to D’Addario, companies cannot defer liability and risk. An example is what happened to BP during the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. No one knew or cared who the local vendors or contractors were or their collaborative role in the spill — what customers did know was that the franchise name of BP was responsible for its oil rigs.