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. Don’t wait until a robbery has occurred to update your security systems and procedures.
It’s important to have a security plan in place to:
Armed robberies are rare, but they do happen, and it is vital that you and your staff know how to keep safe during the event. Being informed and prepared is the best tool you can have.
The overall aim during an armed robbery should be to ensure the offender leaves the premises as soon as possible, without injuring or harming anyone.
Your safety is the priority. Stay as calm as possible. Most robbers don’t want to hurt anyone; they just want money or goods. Remember, the items in the store can be replaced. You can't.
Do exactly as the offenders say. If they ask you to do something, do it - this isn't the time to challenge them. Only give them the cash or goods they’ve asked for – don’t hand over any items they didn’t ask for. Their main goal is likely just to get what they want and leave quickly.
Entering into any conversation, even if you think you are being helpful to the offender, will only prolong the incident and may make them become more agitated.
Avoid making direct eye contact with the offender, as this can be seen as threatening. At the same time, try to make mental notes about their appearance including height, weight, clothing, or any other unique details such as scars, tattoos, accents, piercings or facial hair. This will be valuable for the police later.
Stay where you are unless instructed otherwise. Sudden movements can be mistaken as threats. If you need to move, for any reason, tell the robber what you're about to do. Also let them know if you need to make any movements to comply with their instructions. Don’t attempt to retaliate or attack the offender; and ensure that they can see your hands s, they know you're not reaching for anything.
Only active alarms or panic buttons or sneakily call Triple Zero (000) if it’s completely safe to do so. . Otherwise, you'll only be putting yourself and others at risk. As the robbers leave, don’t try to follow or chase them - leave that to the pros.
After the robbers have left, close the business and lock the doors immediately. Don’t let anyone in except emergency services. Don’t touch or move anything and isolate areas where the offenders stood, touched, spat or bled. Make sure all staff and witnesses stay on-site and provide first aid to anyone who is injured.
Immediately call Triple Zero (000) – even if you’ve activated an alarm. The operator will ask you a series of questions. Only hang up when the Triple Zero (000) operator tells you to and then stay off the phone until police arrive.
Provide police with as much detail about the crime as you can remember, including when the offender entered and left the store, whether they used any weapons, where they went in the store, what they touched, what they took and which direction they left in. Any detail, no matter how small, might be essential.
The operator will want to know:
Crime affects people in different ways and the impact may not be immediately obvious. This experience can be traumatic and stressful.
As part of your responsibility to your staff and customers, consider arranging 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.
Encourage staff to speak with a professional or trusted person about their feelings and remind them that it’s okay to seek help.
Neighbourhood Watch Victoria acknowledges the 38 mobs, the Traditional Custodians of the land on which we operate, live, and gather as employees and volunteers. We recognise their continuing connection to land, water and community and pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging.
At Neighbourhood Watch, we believe everyone has the right to feel safe and welcome. We are committed to ensuring diversity, inclusion and equity are embedded throughout our organisation – in the work we do, the services we deliver and among our staff, volunteers, and the communities we work with.