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As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Taking the steps to avoid a robbery in the first place is much more important than having to deal with the event afterwards. The Ottawa Police Service website provides helpful tips on their website for preventing robberies, including:

  • Keep the interior, front and rear entrances well lighted
  • Keep advertising and merchandise out of windows as much as possible
  • Always keep the rear and side doors locked
  • Maintain a record of decoy or "bait" currency to be given to a robber
  • Be sure your alarms are in good working order at all times
  • Do not open your place of business before or after regular business hours
  • Avoid routine procedures which can be observed and used to the advantage of would-be robbers
  • Call the police if a request is received to open after regular hours
  • Be sure that your video monitoring equipment is operating

Poor money handling can also make you a target for criminals. Here’s what the OPS recommends for managing your money at your business and making your bank deposits:

  • Keep cash exposure and cash on premises as low as possible
  • Keep cheques separate from cash
  • Go directly to the bank
  • Do not go to the bank alone
  • Vary the time and routine of bank trips
  • Consider using a "drop" safe that can only be opened by the owner and/or manager
  • If possible, conceal the money
  • Do not leave deposits or withdrawals unattended in the car
  • If possible, make deposits during daylight hours

Preparing your staff

If you are a small business owner, the OPS recommends having a plan in place that your employees know how to implement in case of a robbery:

  • Instruct all employees in use of the alarm system
  • Assign employees different tasks in case of a robbery:
    • one to call the police
    • one to make observations about the robber
    • one to protect the evidence at the scene of the crime
    • one to detain witnesses

The OPS website offers more advice on business safety and instructions on how to report a robbery.

The School of Criminal Justice at Rutgers University has compiled a great list of tips for preventing crime at your business. The list focuses on four major areas: routines, handling cash, access and visibility.