Retail crime is one of the most extreme experiences faced by retailers and their staff. Recent article from Convenience Store explores how store owners can prepare for the worst. 

Falling victim to any crime is a traumatic experience, but for c-store retailers it is robbery that can be the most harrowing.

The cost of incidents can run much deeper than the immediate repair of equipment or replacement of stolen stock, which may explain why stores spend more than £4,200 a year on crime prevention measures (Association of Convenience Stores 2018 Crime Report).

A report by the Office for National Statistics, tracking UK crime for the 12 months to December 2017 states that incidents of robbery increased by 33% year on year, with the number of violent crimes such as knife crime also rising by 22%.

Connolly Spar in Wiltshire is no stranger to this type of crime. “With our stores, we’ve had a number of smash and grab incidents. and both the external and internal ATMs have been targeted,” says business development manager Susan Connolly.

Rikul Patel, mutual manager for insurance agency The Retail Mutual, has heard similar reports from other retailers.

“Over the past year, we have dealt with a number of claims for violent crime against our members, involving screwdrivers, hammers and knives, as well as verbal abuse and threats. A number of our members have also suffered expensive damage to cash tills and epos systems as a result of thieves targeting their cash.”

The increasing threat of extreme offences means store owners need to find practical and effective ways to deal with it.

Security training company StoneHawk runs four-hour training sessions that help retailers to cope with different types of robbery, including smash and grabs and theft with the threat of force.

“One of the first things we do is speak with the retailer beforehand and establish what security systems they have in place,” says former Metropolitan policeman and managing director Simon Wilson.

“In terms of specific security systems, having good CCTV is essential,” he says.

There are two ways that CCTV can help, according to security system supplier Cricklewood Electronics. “First, it acts as a deterrent to stop the incident happening in the first place,” says director Chris Grocott. “Second, with modern TVs, you stand a good change of getting good footage to hopefully catch the criminals.”

Gary Anton, national account manager for security firm Cougar Monitoring, agrees that CCTV is a crucial tool. “The cost of a good member of staff going off sick or leaving because of a crime is going to be far more than the cost of installing a new security system.” he argues.

The firm has just launched a device that enables staff in danger to alert a CCTV operator who can speak directly to attackers via a speaker system, while also alerting the authorities.

In addition to CCTV, Wilson recommends panic fobs, which can be worn on a belt so store owners can carry them round at all times.

“Often retailers are out stacking shelves or in the office when the criminals come into the store, so it isn’t always possible for them to get behind the till to press their panic button,” he says.

He suggests that retailers also use some form of security foam or fog, which helps to hide products from view during an attack. As a result, the criminals may be forced to leave before they can steal anything.

This is part of an article first published on conveniencestore.co.uk on 11 July.