Robbery-prevention tips for business owners

I was watching the news on the “Doom and Gloom” channel last night. A 70-year-old woman went to the bank, got some funds and returned to the auto body shop she owned. She was jumped in front of the business and the money was grabbed by a young woman who then fled to a car that may have had two male occupants. (Here’s the story that ran on ajc.com.)

The victim suffered a couple of cracked ribs. The crime was right in front of the business and in front of an employee or two.

It was an interesting report and highlights a couple of things to me:

  1. Most robberies have some sort of planning to them. Those plans are not always well thought out, but the robbers do have a plan.
  2. Not all robbers are men.

When you think of a robbery suspect, almost all of us think of some ugly dude, maybe wearing a mask and holding a gun or knife. Furthermore, a fair percentage of us stereotype them with bad oral hygiene and perhaps body odor— but that part isn’t important. The video from the bank shows this robber was a female, blonde and young. That probably wasn’t on the top of your suspect list was it?

She actually followed the victim into the bank, and then back out, allowing herself to be recorded on camera. That wasn’t the smartest move on her part, but when she’s caught, we’ll thank her. (No blonde jokes.)

The younger woman followed the victim to the business and then did a robbery-snatch right in front of the shop. Not the ideal location for a robbery — but she did catch the victim by surprise and did get the money.

The robbery itself was sloppy enough that investigators have a great chance of identifying the suspect by the bank photos, which are much better than the TV images. From that the cops will probably identify the others in the car. Whether you like us or not, our detectives are good at what they do.

This is a good study in crime prevention because, to an extent, the robber went against the grain, catching the victim by surprise.

What you can do to prevent becoming a victim

If you are a store owner, manager or employee who is in charge of moving money to the bank, do yourself a favor and sit down with a cup of coffee or “I’ll have a tall half-skinny half-1 percent extra hot split quad shot (two shots decaf, two shots regular) latte with whip” – whatever — and commit the following to memory:

  1. This CAN happen to you.
  2. You CAN be seriously KILLED in a robbery.

This is reality. Believe it. Now here are some options:

  • Learn to be systematically unsystematic. Don’t do the same thing at the same time on the same day.
  • Buddy up. If you’re moving money to the bank, take someone with you. But don’t take a “Droid-Freak” who never looks up from the phone. You want eyes and ears, not a goober!
  • Knowing numbers 1 and 2, look and observe. Keep in mind that scanning around you not only gives you an idea of who is in your immediate area. It also gives someone who may be looking at you the distinct impression you have the same thing on your mind that they do — and this may not be a good day to rob you. Remember, perception is reality. (That’s why I have the inflatable chest-and-arms kit that I can instantly inflate by CO2 when threatened!)
  • Remember things that are around you: people, cars, anyone just “hanging around,” or anything else that would tip you off that “something ain’t right.”
  • Finally, act on your FIRST instinct, not the one that comes right after that and says: “It’s probably nothing.” These are known as “Famous Last Words.”

Essentially, just move your habits and patterns around enough not to create an opportunity for someone to follow you. In the past years, we have seen robberies where the restaurant or store owner, instead of making the bank drop, came home with anywhere from $5,000 to $60,000 and found too late they were followed, set up and robbed. Unfortunately, good crime prevention doesn’t yield any immediate gratification because you never really know, in most cases, that you deterred someone from robbing you. This means you need to be diligent in sticking with a plan.

It’s not like you have to create a Delta Force Ops plan to take money to the bank. Of course, you can and, by the way, it’s fun, too. The bank tellers do freak out sometimes when you show up at the drive-through dressed as a shrub, but it’s all part of the fun!

Late-night deposits? Call the cops first. It’s not unusual for the beat car to get a request to be in the area while the store owner or employee makes a quick run to the bank.

Or, one word: Rottweiler.

30 comments Add your comment

Fred

August 18th, 2010
5:18 pm

Is this thing on?

Fred

August 18th, 2010
5:19 pm

Dad gum auto snagger ate my first comment. What a shame………….

Billy

August 18th, 2010
5:57 pm

I used to bookkeep at this restaurant in Seattle and on Mondays, I would collect the weekend cash, put it in my backpack, jump on my bike and head to the bank to deposit. Sometimes I had up to $30,000 in my backpack. Pretty naive on my part when I think back to it, but fortunately, I was never robbed.

Fred

August 18th, 2010
9:40 pm

Well now that her name has been put out there I’ll try to comment again and hope the auto snagger doesn’t eat this one.

As someone who has unfortunately had to use a body shop, I can say that McGraws is awesome and Ms Judith is as fine a woman, a Southern Belle, as one could ever hope to meet. I can’t imagine what drug induced state that useless “ho”, Ledeia Thomas, was in that she would attack such a fine upstanding women. I hope she rots in jail until she is dead, but that won’t happen.

Good tips Steve, but Ms Judith was coming BACK from the bank. What did that scumbag ho and her two pimp partners get from beating up a grandmother? I hope they got life………

Fred

August 18th, 2010
9:42 pm

That should be I hope they GET life. Typo corrected, they still will be preying on others in less than 90 days………

Lt. Steve

August 18th, 2010
9:58 pm

Actually there Fred,I did say she was returning from the bank “A 70-year-old woman went to the bank, got some funds and returned to the auto body shop she owned.” But,I agree with you on the e-mail.

Lt. Steve

August 18th, 2010
10:01 pm

Well I hope not. Maybe they’ll ask for a jury trial. Look for a “I’m a poor drug addict” defense. Thanks Dude.

Smith

August 18th, 2010
10:24 pm

Business owners should be encouraged to post signs when this type of activity takes place. Our local Kroger does, but the Publix I shop at never posted a sign (before or after my event).

Sunday at 4:45 pm I ran into the Publix in Sandy Springs (in the Prado). On my way out, three men were in a black Ford Explorer with dealer tags. The backseat passenger exited the vehicle and approached me from behind. He attempted to steal my purse and I was able to fight him off. Fortunately for me, all he wanted was my purse and wasn’t interested in partaking in a prolonged confrontation and drawing additional attention to himself.

After the event, many of the employees from the store told me this is frequently happening. They should be encouraged to inform their customers as it may increase their awareness of the possibility of it happening to them.

Festus

August 19th, 2010
6:52 am

Inflatable chest kit! Neat! Did you order that off the late night tube when you were working nights recently? I hope you acted fast and they doubled the offer! From the bank videos, it appears that maybe the robberess had one of those also.

This really simple

August 19th, 2010
8:09 am

Pack a .40 or .45 with an extra magazine.
Maintain a high level of awareness at ALL times.
Be prepared to use that piece if it becomes necessary.

Caroline

August 19th, 2010
8:40 am

Really great tips; thanks! I enjoyed reading.

Troglodyke

August 19th, 2010
9:36 am

Learn how to use a firearm safely and carry it. If more citizens armed themselves and used their weapons, crime would go down. Just the act of target practice and taking a gun safety course can make you less likely to be a victim, because you learn awareness. Most people are walking through life in a freakin’ fog. Pay attention!

Making the decision to carry is not without pitfalls, absolutely. You don’t just go to the pawn shop and strap on; follow the law, and educate yourself! I fully support the police, but they cannot be everywhere.

When I hear about all those “smash and grab” and “blue jean bandit” robberies, I always wonder why those store owners don’t arm themselves and spend a few nights in their stores. They are guaranteed this right in the Constitution. A couple of dead crooks will send a message.

Michael

August 19th, 2010
9:51 am

Lt. Steve, What is the difference between being “seriously” killed, and just being killed? It would appear to me the end result is the same.

hannah

August 19th, 2010
12:14 pm

Michael, you jerk! Did you never watch The Princess Bride? There is a HUGE difference between “mostly dead” and “all dead”

duh.

samga

August 19th, 2010
1:55 pm

hannah, thank you…that made my day!

chiefs fan

August 19th, 2010
4:34 pm

Michael, the difference between being “seriously” killed, and just being killed is the amount of humor installed in your humor drive. If you don’t have any, they sell it at Radio Shack.

Door Security Threat

August 19th, 2010
4:39 pm

Our small shop had the door kicked in three times. Upgrading to steel door frames was too expensive (about $3K. I guess in retrospect, it would have been cheaper counting all the losses. We added a outdoor night vision camera (solar powered) and a http://www.doordevil.com unit. If they break in again, I am setting up claymores. At that point, I seriously wouldnt give a crap about the lawsuit.

BPJ

August 20th, 2010
10:14 am

My approach is 2 German Shepherds.

Rae Sanchez

August 20th, 2010
12:01 pm

Dear Editor – Are you not “editing” or reviewing the content BEFORE it gets published? Every time I read your articles, it just saddens me to see how many grammatical and punctuation errors are on here. I’ve sent numerous emails to you regarding this. What gives? Do you have to get sent back to college?

Thanks.
Rae

You CAN be seriously KILLED in a robbery.??? You can either be killed or not.

came home with anywhere from $5,000 to $60,000 and found too late they were followed, set up and robbed.???

Patrick

August 20th, 2010
1:13 pm

As for finding out too late they were followed and set up, it’s usually because when someone is being followed, they often don’t give a second thought to it. Most people’s mindset would be along the lines of “they probably live within close proximity of me, so they go down the same roads I do.” Unfortunately this kind of thinking allows you to let your guard down, and you can become an easy target.

A tip, then: If you’re heading home or back to a business after picking up a large sum of cash, or a lot of items at some store (especially during Christmas), do this: If you notice someone is following you rather closely, all the way home, don’t pull into your home. Drive past the house, and keep driving. Turn left or right down one road, and the same down another. Confuse the trailer. If he follows your every move, try to get back on the main highway, and drive to the nearest police station, hospital, or other public facility that is open late, or during the time of the incident. Try to get as close to the entrance as possible and honk your horn, flash your lights, do anything to draw attention to yourself. When someone comes out to see what sort of crazy lunatic is out there, explain you were being followed. If possible, ask for a police escort back to your home.

Fred

August 20th, 2010
5:56 pm

I didn’t send you an email Steve. I wonder if that is what happened to my first post that never made it to the forum lol. I had three disappear on three different blogs that night. Maybe the system was screwy and they went to email.

Clarification. I realize you stated she was coming BACK from the bank. I just don’t see how she had that much cash on her. Most body shops don’t deal in cash, the amounts are too large and most get paid through checks from the insurance company, so she wouldn’t need much “change.” I wasn’t nit picking your account of the events.

I guess my poorly expressed statement was meant to be somewhere along the lines of, when Igo get 20 bucks for personal use from the bank, I’m not usually on my guard when on my return trip because I’m not carrying any “real” money.

But perhaps i made an incorrect assumption and Ms Judith had a large sum with her.

Oh well.

Lt. Steve

August 20th, 2010
7:05 pm

Seriously killed? You’re asking me to clarify it? You don’t read me much. Separate yourself from being so literal. I do this all the time. Tell me the difference between naked and nekid.

Fred

August 20th, 2010
8:48 pm

Not to play devils advocate here but………….

on every other blog, and in the past on this one, whenever the writer of the blog responds, their name is highlighted in gray. But for some reason not on this one. Name stealing is rampant on the AJC blogs so I have to ask:

Is that really you Lt.Steve responding Lt. Steve? Did you forget how to use the AP software if it IS you? I think I’ll report those three comments. My BS detector is just SCREAMING………

Dudly Do Right

August 21st, 2010
11:36 pm

Is the “inflatable chest-and-arms kit” the only kit you bought?
P.S. I agree with Fred’s comment.

ckgator

August 22nd, 2010
5:54 am

Great tips and always a good reminder to keep your head on a swivel when getting gas, approaching an ATM, waiting for your spouse outside of a supermarket, etc.

Folks – don’t mind the grammatical gaffes and word plays. Its called artistic license!

Mitzymy

August 22nd, 2010
5:52 pm

It would be a good idea for a business to deposit money at different times during the day, and not send someone to the bank dressed in the uniform. Some of the businesses in our city send employees to the bank early in the morning. They are always first in line at 9am. Also, they are telling people to take their car keys when they walk up to an ATM machine, because robbers are stealing cars rather than take the money they get out of the machine. This lady had probably done this before and didn’t know that someone had been watching her. Older people do things by habit and its hard for them to change. An 80 year old lady had cashed her check and was in the parking lot of Macys, and a teenager grabbed her purse and drug her all over before she let go. He took her Macys card and went in and charged $300. in clothes and the salesgirl never asked for ID.

DoubleM

August 22nd, 2010
9:57 pm

Maybe it was a former/current employee who knew when the payroll was picked up. Or someone who works in that little plaza. Or maybe it was a crime of opportunity where the robber was there to cash a check or something and just happened to see the teller count out a stack of bills. I once got $12k from a teller and thought that was the dumbest thing ever.

Van Jones

August 23rd, 2010
10:09 am

Naked – you have no clothes on.
Nekid – you have no clothes on and you are up to something.
Thank you and RIP Lewis!

Ray O'Sunshine

August 23rd, 2010
10:33 am

Regarding photo identification and credit card use,it’s strange that many times I’m asked for identification (64 years of age) to buy beer but a thief can use a stolen credit card with no such impediment.

G

August 24th, 2010
8:46 am

The FBI released it’s annual crime report today. Crime is down across the board in all parts of the nation. One thing that stands out: apparently, there are no female bank robbers. Not even one. (true)

They figure it’s because the security cameras add at least ten pounds……….