How to prevent an armed robbery – and what to do if you can’t

Armed robberies are relatively rare. But they do occur. They are obviously very frightening and have a huge impact upon a workplace.

As a business, you have a legal duty to provide a safe workplace and unfortunately that means doing the best you can do to prevent a crime occurring.  You will want to prevent the business being targeted, increase the safety of your employees and customers, reduce the impact of a crime on your business – and if does occur to be able to assist police in the arrest of offenders.

There are 7 steps you can take to prevent the robbery occurring:


  1. Ensure good visibility from the street. An open and uncluttered business frontage – whether professional services, retail or manufacturing provides a clear well lit view into the business which can deter offenders as it allows those passing by to see if a crime is being committed.
  2. Being alert to strangers – individuals who seem out of place or as if they are monitoring your business activity
  3. It is obvious that it is important to keep all entry and exits points locked, in particular when the business is unattended. But also consider having back doors and windows locked when the business is operating
  4. Installing safes, in particular with time delays and drop in chutes so the content cannot be accessed by an employee, is worthwhile – in particular if you post notices that advise a potential offender that cash can’t be accessed. Try not to handle or move cash within the presence of the public and encourage the use of electronic fund transfers for payments and wages
  5. Secure cash registers to the counters and consider installing barriers to keep people out of ‘private’ areas
  6. Monitored alarms and sensor lights can help to secure your business. CCTV is unlikely to be a deterrent to a criminal but it can certainly assist Police with regard to investigation and prosecution.
  7. Do you provide your staff with training in crime prevention? At a minimum staff should have easy access to relevant numbers to call if something does occur. They should be aware of procedures with regard to handling cash and be made aware of what to ‘watch out for’ with regard to suspicious behaviour.  Importantly they should know that there observations are valid – that it is better to be safe than sorry.What to do during an armed robbery?

    As we said – they are rare. But they do occur and it is vital that you and your staff know how to keep safe during the event.

    Firstly – remain as calm as possible and do exactly as the offenders say.  Next – activate alarm devices as soon as possible but only if absolutely safe to do so.

    Obey the instructions of the offenders including not providing any cash or goods that they have not asked for.  Advise the offenders of any movements you have to make to be able to comply with their instructions.

    Speak only when spoken to – entering into any conversation, even if you think you are being helpful to the offender will only prolong the incident.

    Do not attempt to retaliate or attack the offender; avoid eye contact and ensure that they can see your hands.

    One of the benefits of remaining as calm as possible is that it may give you the opportunity to make mental notes of the offender – hair colour, height, scars, tattoos, speech, accent.  Take note of clothing and weapons.  If it is safe to do so, try to scan outside to see if you can identify their vehicle, and take note of the rego number, make, model and colour.

    As the offenders leave, do not try to follow or chase.  Your very first action should be to immediately call Triple Zero – even if you have activated an alarm.

    The operator will want to know:

    Was anyone hurt at the scene?
    Exactly location including business name, address, closest intersection street
    Your name, address and contact number
    Description of offenders including their vehicle if possible
    Direction of travel

    Only hang up when Triple Zero tell you to do so – and then stay off the phone until police arrive.

    Close up the business and ensure that you are your staff don’t touch or move anything.  Make sure that all staff and witnesses stay on the spot – and if possible keep witnesses apart and avoid people talking to each other about what has just occurred and not talking to media if they should be on scene.  You don’t know that this information could be required in any prosecution in the future.

    If possible, witnesses should independently write as much detail as they can occur.

    Crime affects people in different ways and the impact may not be immediately obvious.  Do consider, as part of your responsibility to your staff and customers, engaging in trauma counselling.  The Victims Support Agency (VSA) within the Department of Justice and Community Safety is the official Victorian Government agency helping people manage the effects of violent crime.

    Further information is available at as well as at



Check out our library of articles to help you to prevent becoming a victim of crime.

This article is available for you to link to from your social media, website and e-newsletter, providing you credit Neighbourhood Watch Victoria. Please include the following text: Crime prevention information from Neighbourhood Watch Victoria.