Incident Response Plan – What to do if a
Security Incident Occurs at a Convenience Store
No matter how much one invests in security solutions and equipment, the reality is, every C-Store is likely to experience some level of security incident at some point. The chains will have a well-developed and tested set of guidelines and procedures for its corporate-owned and franchise store operations, and independent C-Store owners also need to implement an emergency response plan and train employees on what to do when a crime occurs.
If a robbery involving imminent danger to an employee occurs at a convenience store, while it may seem counterintuitive, the best strategy is to adhere to a burglar’s demands. “Think about it this way, a robber is not there to actually hurt you, that’s not the intention,” said Tony Gallo of Sapphire Risk Advisory Group, the former director of Loss Prevention and Safety for EZCorp and a graduate of New Jersey City University with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice degree. “A vast majority of robbers are not there to be violent; they’re there to get something from you.”
Gallo has over 30 years of experience in retail security and is a firm believer that it’s never worth it to attempt to resist the demands of a burglar. So, it is very important to train employees to shy away from physical contact and attempt to get the burglar out of the store as quickly as possible. If a C-Store has the proper security technology in place, the only thing to worry about during an incident is personal safety as the security system can be relied upon to handle everything else. Properly installed video surveillance systems will record the entire incident.
“The number one thing, whether you’re an employee, or a normal person walking down the street or you’re in your car, the same is true for any victim, you should cooperate (with a burglar),” Gallo said. “You need to look at the situation like this is basically a transaction, it’s difficult for people to wrap their brain around that. But, if you can take it as a transaction and cooperate, you stand a much better chance of resolving that issue much quicker.”
When it boils down to it, physical items are replaceable and it’s never worth it to put your life on the line to stop a burglary. “Yes, you want to be able to deter that robber from ever coming to your store. And your next goal is that you would like to recover any losses that may occur or have that person caught,” Gallo said. “But, the most important goal you need to have is to make sure that everybody’s safe.”
A catastrophic event can encompass everything from a hurricane, to an earthquake, to politically motivated rioting and protests. According to security industry author Charles Sennewald, “(Installing an emergency response plan) is something that is a necessity for a successful enterprise because of the potential loss if there is a catastrophic event.”
“From a business point of view, it actually makes no sense whatsoever not to train your employees on the things that can potentially happen whether it’s an armed robbery or a civil disturbance,” Gallo said. “You can’t train anyone in the moment. Training does two things: it sends a message to employees that you care…and the other thing is, obviously, it will be a huge benefit if something does occur.”
Employees should receive basic guidance that covers a wide range of potential security incidents – anything from a fellow employee suffering a heart attack, to a car driving through the storefront window.* Basically, anything that has ever happened at a C-Store should be looked at and used in incident response training. Both Gallo and Sennewald offer in-depth tips for incident response plans in their respective works that can be found in the hyperlinked text above. C-store owners should review, along with their professional commercial security equipment suppliers, in order to optimally secure a location.
Emphasize Life Safety
It’s essential to value the most important thing: life. “Forget about the possessions, (a C-Store) has insurance, the desire should be to be able to go home to your family and have dinner,” Gallo said. “Money and merchandise can always be replaced; it’s your safety that can’t. That’s why you buy insurance.”
Both Gallo and Sennewald offer in-depth tips for incident response plans in their respective works that can be found in the hyperlinked text above. C-Store owners should review, along with their professional commercial security equipment suppliers, in order to optimally secure a location.
It’s essential to value the most important thing: life. “Money and merchandise can always be replaced;” according to Gallo. “It’s life safety that can’t. That’s why you invest in security solutions..and buy insurance.”
*According to the Storefront Safety Council, this is actually an incident that takes place in near-epidemic numbers, with over 4,000 injuries annually and as many as 500 deaths caused by vehicle-into-building crashes.