Commercial Robbery Prevention Tips

Our Crime Prevention Officers recently conducted numerous site assessments at stores to enhance Crime Prevention through Environmental Design. There are several steps that you can take to enhance security at your business to deter and prevent robberies from occurring. Remember, your employees’ safety and the safety of your customers matter most. Property can be replaced, lives cannot. 

Before a robbery occurs: 

  • Keep front doors and windows free of obstructions – this includes posts, signs and landscaping. 
  • Ensure your business is well lit. This includes the entrance as well as the exterior of the building and potential hiding spots. 
  • Place signs on the exterior to inform would-be robbers that surveillance is in place, limited cash is kept at the business and employees do not have access to the store safe. 
  • Encourage employees to greet everyone who enters. 
  • Maintain a clean business to deter robbers. 
  • Be alert for individuals loitering outside the business or acting suspicious.
    • If you see suspicious activity, call police immediately. 
  • Install a surveillance system.
    • Make sure your surveillance can be seen by customers. 
    • Ensure employees can access it to provide information to officers. 
    • Ensure a camera is pointed at the entrance as well as behind the cash register. 
    • If you have a surveillance system in place, ensure it is in working order
  • Make bank deposits at least once a day to limit the amount of cash at the business.
    • Vary times and routes for bank deposits. 
    • Do not use moneybags that make it obvious to potential robbers.  
  • Have a panic or hold-up alarm installed in your business. 
  • Train your employees to prepare for a robbery.
    • Make sure you have policy in place guiding employees how to interact with thieves and robbers. 

During a robbery: 

  • Your safety is first. Stay calm and do not resist. 
  • Listen and follow directions. 
  • Be observant and take note of robber’s clothing and distinguishing characteristics. 
  • Do not make sudden movements. 
  • Keep your hands in plain view. 
  • Activate alarm only if it is safe to do so. 

After a robbery occurs: 

  • Call police immediately. Do not call a manager or security first.
    • Remain on the phone with the call taker to provide accurate information. 
    • Describe the direction the robber left. 
    • Describe the weapon, if one was used. Describe the vehicle, if one was used. 
  • Lock your business.
  • Ask witnesses to wait until police arrive.
  • Do not touch anything the robber may have touched.
    • Do not walk where the robber walked.
  • Write down a description of the robber.
  • Do not chase or follow the robber, leave that to the officers.
    • Do not put yourself in the position to be assaulted or become the victim of a robbery.

If you are a business owner seeking a site assessment, contact your local jurisdiction to speak with the Community Police Officer to learn more about Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design. You can also sign up for Business Watch Program. Watch this should video to learn more: FCPD Crime Prevention Unit: Business Watch Program – YouTube

If you have information about commercial robberies, please contact our Major Crimes Bureau detectives at 703-246-7800, option 5. Tips can also be submitted anonymously through Crime Solvers by phone -1-866-411-TIPS (866-411-8477), and by web – Click HERE. Download the ‘P3 Tips’ App “Fairfax Co Crime Solvers”. Anonymous tipsters are eligible for cash rewards of $100 to $1,000 dollars. Please leave contact information if you wish for a detective to follow up with you.