Tips to Prevent Crimes in Restaurants & Bars

Restaurants and bars  can be targets for robbery, burglary and theft. These service businesses may accumulate a large amount of cash during daily operations, which make them attractive targets for criminal activity. Coupled with odd hours of operation and so many people moving in and out of the building, restaurants and bars are perceived as an easy target to criminals. Don’t make it easy for them; implement preventive measures to deter criminal activity and reduce liabilities.

Read, “Protecting Your Employees from Assault” for more information on measures aimed at violence prevention in your restaurant or bar.

Prevent Crimes at Your Restaurant or Bar with These 5 Tips

1. Enact smart money management.

Even though debit and credit card payments are popular payment choices, restaurants and bars still ring up a fair number of cash transactions. The accumulation of cash during operating hours makes your establishment an easy target, so prevent crimes by keeping it safe.  Assess these vulnerabilities:

Cash on-hand: Invest in a drop safe and keep cash in the registers to a minimum. Employees should make frequent deposits to the drop safe throughout the day to minimize the amount of cash available at any given time. This is an especially good practice during the evening and late-night hours when robberies tend to be more frequent.

Moving money: Transferring money to the bank can make your business susceptible to attempted theft. Make trips at varied times and through alternate routes of travel to avoid a predictable pattern. If criminals uncover a schedule, it makes it easier for them to attempt a heist on your hard-earned profits.

Safe standards: The number of people who have access to the safe should be limited as much as possible to minimize the risk of disappearing dollars. When an employee terminates or is terminated, the combination to the safe needs to be changed so that there isn’t a chance he or she can return to the building and steal money or divulge the combination to other people. Additional rules of thumb include ensuring that the safe combination is not written anywhere in the proximity to the safe, and the combination is always scrambled upon closure.

2. Evaluate your environmental design.

Prevent crimes by deterring crooks from targeting your establishment. Bolster external crime prevention efforts. Consider addressing the following elements:

Landscaping: Foliage offers the perfect places for criminals to hide until there’s a clear opportunity to make a move. Plant growth that is more than three feet high near doors offers the perfect cover, so keep shrubs and trees well-trimmed.

Lighting: Illuminate potential hiding hazards with motion detection lighting systems and/or bright exterior lighting that are on a timer system. A well-lit facade makes for an unattractive building to try and burglarize.

Trash containers: Exterior dumpsters should be located in a locked enclosure to minimize the likelihood of people hiding in the trash receptacle.

Surveillance: Security cameras should focus on the parking lot, back door and other vulnerable exterior locations. Their presence can deter crime—but provide helpful information to the authorities if the unthinkable happens.

Roof access: Exterior ladders on the side of the building need to be secured and not provide access to the roof.

3. Invest in internal video monitoring.

Video surveillance isn’t just for the outdoors. Installing cameras inside is another piece of the security puzzle to help prevent crimes and suspicious activity. 

Install the right cameras: Different camera systems boast distinct benefits, making them ideal for specific situations. For example, dome cameras house a small camera inside a dome-shaped enclosure and are typically installed in areas that get dirty, whereas a bullet camera is small, narrow and includes an infrared illuminator, which is ideal for low-light areas. Make sure you understand the available camera options and which will work best for your business setting. 

Remember: Best practice for saving video is to record at least 30 days’ worth of footage, so make sure your surveillance selection can accommodate that.

Place the eye in the sky: Cameras should be placed in all cash handling areas (e.g., near cash registers and the back office), at entrances and exits, and in storage areas, work/prep areas and break rooms so staff and customers are aware they are being recorded.

Prepare staff: Appropriate employees need to be trained in the use of the video system, including activating it, reviewing the footage, and saving copies of the incident video to a thumb drive, DVD or other media.

4. Review building security.

building business security

While seemingly straightforward, double-check the following safety components to ensure your restaurant or bar is set up for security success:

Alarm systems: Activate a centrally monitored alarm system. Off-site alarm companies notify key staff and law enforcement quickly if someone attempts to breach the building. Conduct routine maintenance of the alarm system to ensure it works if a break-in is attempted, and that key staff members have received special training on its activation and disabling procedures.

Keys: Only distribute exterior door keys to employees who must have access. Keys should be marked “Do Not Duplicate” so employees won’t be able to get copies made at the local hardware store. 

Doors: The rear door leading to the trash containers should have a buzzer to request reentry or for delivery drivers to drop off provisions. Additionally, there should be a peephole to visually verify who is requesting entry. Back doors should never be propped open because it may seem like an invitation for someone to walk right in.

5. Reinforce in-house protocol.

Simple procedures can help prevent crimes from occurring and keep employees safe while on the clock. Review and implement these suggested protocols for ongoing security:

Train regularly: Continual safety training is a must. It will keep new and veteran employees in-the-know about the steps to follow to prevent criminal activity—and the actions to follow in case an incident occurs.

Schedule smartly: Single employees are seen as more vulnerable targets for a robbery, so no one should ever be alone in the building. There should be a “buddy system” in place during opening and closing procedures to check for security-related problems and ensure employees get to their vehicle or ride safely at the end of the day.

Closing protocol: Staff should follow a detailed checklist to ensure the building is as secure as possible while finishing nightly responsibilities, including locking all doors once customers have left, checking bathrooms for “stay behinds,” and not allowing anyone back in the building after hours.

Common Illegal Acts Perpetrated by Criminals 

  • Armed Robbery. Do you know when your business is most vulnerable?
  • Employee Theft. Do you know that this is the most frequent criminal event in a restaurant?
  • Violent Incidents. Do you know how staff should respond?
  • Burglary. Do you know how to deter burglars?

Learn more about these crimes and how to prevent them in this whitepaper. Then, download this pdf for a crime prevention checklist that you can put to use in your restaurant or bar.

Stop risk to keep your business going. Find more whitepapers, case studies and safety resources from our risk management team at societyinsurance.com or contact your local Society agent to discuss how the right insurance coverage can help protect your business.

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