Keeping your Pawnshop Safe: Robbery Tips
Keeping your business safe can be a big worry for many jewelers and pawnbrokers—especially around major holidays. It’s not just about having peace of mind when you’re off the clock, it’s also a matter of your business’s long-term survival. The hard part is, it’s impossible to predict when the safety and security of your customers, inventory, and cash on hand will come under threat. Here are some preventative measures to help minimize the risk of thieves attacking your business.
- Make sure there is good lighting and visibility both inside and out. This increases the chance that employees and street traffic will witness suspicious activities in the store. Outdoor lighting should be even and directed toward the sides of the building, not outward where glare can create a hiding place.
- Be aware of your surroundings – report suspicious activity. Opening and closing periods, lunch breaks and during the holiday season we see the most activity from robbers. If you spot an individual or occupied vehicle lingering around your business in a manner that makes you suspicious or uncomfortable, write down the license plate number, color of the car and description of the individuals. Report this to management and call the local police (non-emergency number) with your concerns.
- Greet and question customers. Make a habit of politely asking strangers if you can help them find someone or something, and take in details about them as you do so. This gives you the opportunity to mentally create a good description of them while providing good customer service.
- Develop Safety procedures for dealing with trespassers and difficult people, for opening and closing the shop, rules for using the office during off-hours, recommendations for personal property and security, who to report crimes and suspicious activities to, and an emergency exit plan. Train your staff so they are able to appropriately handle a situation, shout it arise.
- Control your cash. Only keep the amount of cash in the till you need to conduct normal business and transfer the rest to the safe. Make trips to the bank often (in a disguised container) and have someone accompany you when possible. Vary your travel times and routes to reduce predictability. Take greater precaution in the evenings.
- Outfit your shop with the proper security measures. Control access to your building by keeping all doors locked except the main entrance. Consider a silent hold-up alarm or “buddy alarm” that connects to a neighboring business. Read more alarm tips from our team.
- Get to know your local Police before a crime happens. Discuss trends in local crime, and ask for advice about how to handle robberies. Many police departments can schedule planned and unplanned visits. Encourage employees to become acquainted with the officers, and consider a sign that says “Store subject to routine police patrols” if you work out a plan for visits.
- Keep control of the office keys. Be sure to keep a record showing the issuance of every key, including user date and time so that it is immediately apparent who has a key to any given lock. Restrict keys to only those who need them and maintain a strict policy of obtaining keys from terminated employees. It is helpful to have a written policy to mandate immediate reporting of lost or stolen keys as well. If a key is lost or stolen, its lock should be immediately replaced or re-keyed.
In case of a robbery, here are some tips for handling the situation that you and your staff should be aware of:
- Remain calm. Most robbers do not wish to harm people, they just want your money or property. The calmer you are, the less chance there is that your robber will become agitated or dangerous. Staying calm also increases the chance you will get a more accurate description of the robber and be able to assist in their apprehension.
- Do not argue or fight with the robber. Additional provocation or surprises could make the situation worse. Therefore, give the robber what they want, and do it quickly. Don’t take unnecessary chances with your life.
- Cooperate, but don’t volunteer assistance. Don’t give all the money if the robber only asks for $20’s and don’t give checks voluntarily.
- Activate silent alarms or other security devices if you are able to do so without detection. Activating noisy or detectable alarms may cause a robber to become violent.
- Try to observe and retain as much detail as possible. Look at the robber carefully, noting as many details as possible until you can write them down. Is the robber taller than you? Heavier? Older? Do they have tattoos? Birthmarks?
- Make note of any weapons used. Glance at the weapon just long enough to identify it, but then focus on the robber. Make no sudden moves or indication that you will take the weapon from the robber.
- If safe to do so, watch the thief left the scene. Was there a vehicle involved? Were you able to get a license plate number, color or model of the vehicle?
- Phone the police immediately. If you dial 911, request the police. Then briefly indicate to the call taker what your issue is, when it happened, where you are, and report any injuries. Keep your telephone line clear until the police arrive as the officers may need to call you. If the robbery happened last night and you are just walking into the shop, consider calling the non-emergency number for your local law enforcement, keeping 911 available for true emergencies.
- Lock down the area. Do not allow anyone in until the police arrive, and do not touch anything the robber may have touched.
- Do not discuss what happened with other witnesses. Your own impressions should be kept untainted until you have spoken with the authorities. Write down your incident description or take photos to record as many details as you can while they are fresh in your mind.
Once you have filed a police report, contact your insurance agent. Our team is here to help you through the claims process.