July 14, 2024 3:03 pm

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July 14, 2024 3:03 pm

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Tips to Deter Armed Robberies at Small Businesses

“Empty your register now!” It is a terrifying refrain heard all too often by employees at bodegas, tiendas and convenience stores. The threat is usually made by a thief with a weapon, such as a gun, knife or baseball bat, late at night or in the early morning hours.

Statistics show a rapid and distressing increase of armed and violent robberies at urban corner stores, from New York to Los Angeles, since the COVID pandemic subsided, bringing trauma and stress to merchants and their employees.

The Los Angeles Police Department reported that the number of armed robberies in 2022 rose by 400 incidents, or 30.1%, over 2021. This past January, the New York Police Department announced that robberies increased 5% compared to January 2023.

As the world has opened up post-COVID, an ever-growing number of people have ventured outside to shop at brick-and-mortar stores. The masses include criminals and people in increasingly desperate financial straits. Economic downturns can lead to increased crime.

Armed and violent robbery has gotten so out of hand that the United Bodegas of America in December 2023 announced a program in which the organization will assist business owners in obtaining gun licenses.

Corner store, bodega, tienda and convenience store owners should ask themselves whether they are taking all necessary precautions to deter theft at their establishments. The corner store, by definition, is located in a relatively low-trafficked area. It is a convenient location for armed robberies, and these store owners must be especially vigilant in deterring crime.

The windows of some convenience stores, bodegas and tiendas are plastered with signs announcing sales, spotlighting products and advertising local events. Merchants should monitor visible window space. When people cannot see into your store, it is that much easier for perpetrators to go unnoticed.

In addition to being watchful, merchants need modern security tools to deter robberies and help the police catch criminals. Panic buttons and security cameras are very popular in small convenience shops. Think about the location of these devices. Security cameras should be placed in hidden or other areas that are hard for thieves to reach and disable. They should also be able to transmit data to backup devices so that footage is preserved when a thief destroys a camera.

Criminals are quick to prevent the use of panic buttons by ordering frightened and shocked cashiers to keep their hands in front of them and not make any false moves, carrying an implicit threat of physical confrontation.

Bodega and tienda owners may want to consider cutting-edge technology to bolster safety and much-needed peace of mind for themselves and their staff.  Some companies offer cash registers with panic alarms inconspicuously on the device. Cashiers can simply touch the alarm in one motion as they hit the button to open the register for the unknowing assailant.

Frequently researching and analyzing security tools, and working in tandem with local law enforcement, is key to preventing crime. By establishing effective strategies, small business owners can best position themselves to operate a safe place of business.

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