Better safe than sorry: Crime proof your business

Not every business needs to spend a fortune on high-end security systems. Effective loss prevention is as simple as training employees to be vigilant, and putting checks in place to ensure transactions and freight are dealt with honestly.

If you have not taken measures to reduce the risk of fraud, robberies or vandalism at your place of business, if you are not sure what to do in the case of a robbery or how to best keep your employees safe, then it is a good idea to crime proof your business.

Tips to crime proof your business:

Your business layout:

  • Keep sight lines in and out of the store clear by removing signs and displays from window areas.
  • Remove any displays and stock that provide a hiding place.
  • Keep smaller merchandise close to the cash register or in locked cases.
  • Don’t put expensive merchandise near the entrance or exit.
  • Have all side or service doors locked at all times.
  • Maintain adequate lighting inside and out.
  • Install window stickers, height markers and cash handling stickers.
  • Keep any alarm or camera system properly serviced and ensure employees are familiar with its use.
  • Encourage police vehicles, as well as taxis, to use your business lot especially during evening and night hours of operation.
  • Have deliveries made during evening or night hours of operation to promote increased activity around the store whenever possible.
  • Keep the police emergency number on or by the phone at all times.

Cash handling:

  • Keep cash float levels at a minimum. Large amounts of cash make great targets.
  • Occasionally record serial numbers and denominations of bills in the register, these bills could help identify a thief after a robbery.
  • Do not count cash or open the safe in public.
  • Avoid routines in patterns of work that may tip a robber off to the best time to strike.
  • Make bank deposits during banking hours and use an unmarked package to transport the money whenever possible.
  • Make regular bank deposits but at do it irregular times.

Customer service:

  • Greet or assist customers as they come into the store. A robber does not want to be identified.
  • Ask people who are loitering if they need any assistance. A robber does not like attention.
  • Watch for suspicious loiterers outside, in cars or on foot.
  • Pay attention to people who
    • Avoid eye contact with staff;
    • Seem to pay more attention to the staff than the merchandise;
    • Stay in hard-to-see areas of the store; 
    • Are carrying large bags or wearing baggy clothing;
    • Are with a group – especially if they split up when they enter and divide the staff’s attention;
    • Take a lot of merchandise into a changing room.
  • Be suspicious of persons asking about your security or cash-handling system.

If you become suspicious about a person or a vehicle note the description and contact the police immediately.

But, what if?

Canada is one of the safest countries in the world to live, work and play in. Even given that fact, sometimes crime can have devastating effects on our livelihood and businesses. 

We hope that your business never experiences a robbery, but if it did would you and your employees know what to do during and afterwards?

During a robbery:

  • Safety is always the main concern.
  • Handle the situation calmly. Do not panic.
  • Follow the robber’s directions to the best of your ability without endangering your own life or that of your customers.
  • Do not argue or withhold cash from the robber.
  • Advise the robber if there are any other employees or customers in the store to avoid startling him/her and triggering an attack.
  • Remember to hand the robber the money with your recorded serial numbers.
  • Keep any note that the robber passes to you and handle it by the edges only.
  • Observe carefully so that you can describe and identify the robber to the police.
  • Remember any place the robber touches so the police can check for fingerprints.
  • Do not attempt to overpower the robber. He/she may be armed.
  • Watch the height marker as the robber leaves.

After a robbery:

  • Activate any alarm when you feel it is safe to do so.
  • Call the police immediately. Tell them
    • the name and exact location of your business
    • the description of the robbers
    • direction of travel and
    • whether or not they are armed.
  • Do not hang up until the police officer does. He/she may wish to get more information.
  • Lock all doors to prevent the robber from getting back into the store and to preserve evidence for the police.
  • Ask any witnesses to wait for the police to arrive.
  • Do not discuss the robbery with witnesses or other employees, only with the police.
  • Write down your observations as soon as possible as you may need them in court.
  • Notify company officials.
  • Be factual. Do not exaggerate.
  • Do not estimate the value of property or the amount of cash.

Remember to always report crimes or suspicious activities to the police. They need your cooperation to keep your business, and our communities safe from crime.

These tips are not exhaustive. If you want to discuss crime proofing for your business we recommend you connect with your local police detachment or call a business counsellor at 1 888 234-2232 or