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Reduce Your Risk of Robbery

One of the worst fears for any small business owner, particularly retailers, is robbery. It can happen anytime, anywhere ? even in ?safe? neighborhoods.

One of the worst fears for any small business owner, particularly retailers, is robbery.  It can happen anytime, anywhere ? even in ?safe? neighborhoods with negligible crime rates. A robber may spend several days casing your store, carefully planning how and when to strike.  Or, it could happen on a whim.

Location does not always determine the likelihood of robbery. True, merchants in high-density urban communities tend to be more affected by robberies than their counterparts in suburban and rural communities. And traditional targets include convenience stores and liquor stores. However, all merchants who keep a significant amount of cash on their premises may be targets, regardless of location or merchandise type. There is no foolproof method to prevent a robbery, but some practices can reduce your risk and exposure to loss.

Business owners should have insurance for their establishment. Meet with your insurance agent regarding insuring your inventory. Make it a policy to limit the amount of cash you keep on your premises at any one time. Business owners who make regular and frequent bank deposits substantially reduce their risk. If you handle a lot of cash make deposits twice a day. Make a deposit during the day, so you can get the bulk of cash out of the store before evening.

Police officers frequently advise business owners and employees to act as discreetly as possible when carrying large sums of cash, and to vary both their hours and route to the bank. Don?t create a clearly discernible pattern; that may make you an easy target. If your cash receipts are extremely large, you may want to hire an armored truck service to transport cash and provide another layer of insulation in the exposure of cash to risk.

Some armored car services will rent businesses dual-control safes, permitting the user to deposit funds in the safe without opening the safe door. The safe can be unlocked only jointly by the armored car driver and business owner or cashier. Decals clearly mark the safe as being under dual control. Difficult access reduces the chances of a robber getting a large sum of cash. Merchants whose businesses keep late hours may purchase drop safes with an inner compartment and special cash deposit drawer. These safes work on the same principal; only the manager or owner has access to the cash once it has been deposited.

If your business isolated in a high crime area, some experts urge you to consider using protective glass to enclose the cashier and register. The enclosure should be high enough to prevent someone from vaulting over the top, and the opening for transfer of cash should be too small to permit insert of a weapon that might be used to threaten the cashier.

One of the simplest and greatest deterrents to thieves is adequate lighting. It?s as highly regarded as a deterrent that in some areas law enforcement agencies require businesses to maintain acceptable light levels at all times. Good lighting in front and back and inside and out of the store can help patrolling police officers spot trouble at your establishment. Clean, uncluttered windows are another good idea. If advertising posters and signs cover a large part of your display windows, a robbery may not be seen by a passing patrol car. Surveillance cameras that provide daily and nightly recordings of store activities can act as a deterrent. Further videotape of a robbery, provides the owner with more effective means of prosecution because of the video evidence.


Santa Barbara SCORE meets every Wednesday, from 8:30-11:30 a.m., at 402 E. Gutierrez St., Santa Barbara. No appointment is necessary. For more information, call 805.563.0084, visit or register for counseling online at

In addition, the Santa Barbara SCORE Chapter publishes a great tool for aspiring entrepreneurs, How to Start a Business in Santa Barbara County.

Anyone in business or interested in starting a business can meet with a SCORE business counselor for confidential counseling or mentoring. All SCORE counseling is offered as a free and confidential community service. There are 389 SCORE chapters around the country with more than 11,500 volunteer business counselors donating their time and expertise to provide advice, explanations and information about small business ownership. These volunteers are ready to assist you. SCORE business counselors are working and retired business owners, executives and managers ? who have real-world knowledge and experience to share with you.

You can plug into a wealth of business know-how by contacting your Santa Barbara chapter of SCORE ?Counselors to America?s Small Business.? SCORE counselors offer free, confidential advice about every aspect of starting, running and growing a successful business, even mentoring.

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