Key Steps for Employee Safety During an Armed Robbery
By Darin Burt
In recent times, smoke shops have been under an alarming rise in incidents of armed robberies. These businesses, often seen as soft targets, face an increasing threat to both their assets and, more crucially, the lives of the staff. The immediacy of such situations can be overwhelming, and it is vital for employees to understand the best practices to ensure their safety.
The sudden appearance of a weapon can be heart-stopping. However, reacting impulsively can exacerbate the situation. Deep breaths and calm composure can assist in understanding the perpetrator’s demands more clearly. Remember: your safety and that of your colleagues and customers is paramount. No amount of money or merchandise is worth risking a life.
In most situations, it is advisable to give the robber what they want. This may go against our natural instinct to protect our belongings, but material items can always be replaced—lives cannot. Hand over cash, products, or whatever they’re asking for promptly and without resistance.
Avoid Eye Contact but Observe
While it’s crucial to avoid making direct eye contact—which can be seen as confrontational or challenging—it’s beneficial to observe the assailant’s physical traits, clothing, and any distinguishing marks without being too obvious. These details can aid law enforcement in their subsequent investigations.
Any sudden or unexpected movement can make the robber nervous or agitated. It’s advisable to move slowly, and always inform them of your actions. If you need to reach below a counter or move to another part of the store, communicate your intentions calmly.
Activate Silent Alarms, If Possible
Many establishments have silent alarms that can notify law enforcement of an ongoing robbery. If you can discreetly trigger the alarm without drawing attention, do so. However, only attempt this if you are confident that the robber won’t notice.
Be a Good Witness
After the incident, try to recall as much detail as possible. Write down everything you remember, from the physical appearance and clothing of the perpetrator to the vehicle they may have used. Even minor details can be significant in investigations.
Do Not Attempt Heroics
It’s natural to want to protect yourself, your coworkers, and the business, but taking the role of a hero can have dire consequences. Engaging with an armed individual risks not only your life but also the lives of others present. Law enforcement professionals receive extensive training to handle such situations; let them do their job.
After the Incident: Prioritize Wellbeing
The aftermath of an armed robbery can have profound psychological impacts. It’s essential to recognize the potential for trauma and consider seeking counseling or therapy. Employers should also ensure that staff has the necessary resources and support during these times.
While this guide focuses on how to respond, preventive measures can also mitigate risk. These include:
- CCTV Surveillance: Visible cameras can deter potential robbers.
- Clear Windows: Keeping windows clear of obstructions provides a clear view into the store, making it less attractive to criminals.
- Training: Regularly training staff on safety procedures and the importance of not resisting can save lives.
- Safe Procedures: Regularly emptying cash registers and using time-lock safers can minimize potential loot.
In the face of rising incidents, preparation and education are our best defenses. Armed robberies are terrifying, unpredictable events, but by staying calm, complying with demands, and focusing on safety first, employees can best navigate these harrowing situations.