Armed Robbery – Business Safety
We all like to think that Ukiah is a safe community – a community where crimes like armed robbery do not occur. But the fact is, during the last few years crime in Ukiah has been increasing, especially serious felony crime.
Just last week, a robber entered our Ukiah Wal-Mart, displayed a firearm, and demanded money. The store clerk did exactly what should be done, giving the robber the money and defusing a potentially violent situation. But the experience will change how the people involved feel about their safety from now on.
From 2011 to 2013, serious felony crimes increased 20 percent, from 700 felonies per year to 874 felonies per year. Each of these impersonal statistics represents a very personal experience. Imagine if you had been one of the 874 victims last year who had to face the fear, anger, or violation associated with a felony crime.
I can’t imagine too many things more frightening than having a gun pointed at you while someone demands money or valuables. What do you do? How should you act? Could you have prevented this from occurring? Can you diffuse it? And, is my business a target for a robbery?
Rutgers University School of Criminal Justice suggests the following tips to help protect us from a robbery.
Although any business can be robbed, not all businesses have the same risk. Businesses that are often open late, have limited staff, or sell valuable merchandise are desirable targets for robbers: convenience stores, service stations, liquor stores, jewelry stores, and supermarkets, for example. Robbers are looking for opportunities like these.
Late Hours: If a business is open after regular business hours, there is a wider range of time during which it could be robbed. Late at night fewer people are around, so a robber has less chance of being identified or caught.
One Clerk: Businesses with only one clerk are at a greater risk for robbery, especially at night.
Cash or Valuable Merchandise: The most desirable target for a robber is cash. A business with large amounts of cash is a desirable target. If the business sells products that are valuable and can easily be resold, it is also a likely target.
By definition, a robbery involves some physical force or threat of force, whether it is with a weapon or not. Unlike other crimes that affect businesses, robbery can cause physical harm to individual employees. Since robberies occur quickly, having a pre-established plan for store employees is especially helpful -- it can reduce the risk of violence, throw off the robber, and help law enforcement apprehend the suspect afterwards.
Robbery Reaction Plan:
- Cooperate with the robber and do not jeopardize personal safety.
- Try to alert other employees, possibly through a predetermined signal.
- Identifying a robber can help in their apprehension, so try to remain calm and make note of physical characteristics:
- Height (markers at the door can help)
- Build (stocky, slight, etc.)
- Hair color
- Method of operation - weapon used, escape route, accomplices.
- Because of the stress involved, it will help to immediately write down details of the event.
- Notify the police immediately.
- Do not discuss the events with anyone until the police arrive, so the information is not confused.
On the UPD website we have posted these tips so you can train your staff. Our officers are always available to help if you’d like to review ways to make a business safer, or train your staff in robbery procedures. For more information please contact Nancy Sawyer at 707-467-5708.
As always, our mission at UPD is simple: to make Ukiah as safe as possible. If you have any suggestions or comments about how we can improve, please feel free to call me, complete our online survey, or leave a crime tip on our website: www.ukiahpolice.com.