When we go about our daily lives and think about how crime affects us, the majority of each citizen’s concern is for their own families, neighbours and the associated risks of vehicle theft and hijackings in areas that we frequently visit.
Why then do we conveniently forget that industries such as the petroleum and retail industries, with which we interact almost daily, are equally targeted by criminals?
However, it comes as no surprise that the petroleum and retail industries are targeted by criminals, as these businesses receive, to a great extent, cash in exchange for their products and services. We can therefore argue that these industries are easy targets for criminals. And even though this is common knowledge, there was a time that even those who were targeted did not realise the amount of risk associated within their industry.
Looking at service stations
Service stations are designed and built in such a way that they attract clients by offering a variety of services to the customers: shop, takeaways, ATMs and often even a car service. In addition, for many people, service stations are used as a safe place if they are having car problems or just waiting for someone.
However, as any business owner knows, along with all the benefits of having your own service station, you also have your disadvantages like crime. In order for a service station owner to prevent crime, he first needs to identify what attracts criminals to the premises. The following threats were identified at service stations:
• Opportunistic (walk-in) attacks;
• Cash management system bombings;
• Cash in transit robbery;
• Forecourt hijackings; and
• ATM attacks.
If something is against the law, it’s the SAPS responsibility to deal with it. However, the service station owner can’t expect the SAPS to prevent all crime, and therefore the owner of the service station has to take proactive steps to prevent crime. What proactive steps can the owner put in to place to prevent crime at his/her business?
• Training/security awareness
• CIT service provider selection
• Perimeter protection
• Cash management system (CMS ) devices
• Crime intelligence
• ATMs must have dye stain
• Limit trading hours (if possible)
• Emergency preparedness
• CCTV surveillance cameras
• Armed response units
• Bullet resistant glass
• Alarms and panic buttons
Of course, this is not a guarantee of security. If a service station owner falls victim to crime irrespective of the preventive steps that have been put in place, it’s important to understand the following steps.
Principles you can apply during an armed robbery
Remain calm, it will help to keep the offender calm and reduce the risk of violence. By being calm you can observe things better and enhance your safety. Obeying the offender without question will improve your chances of enhancing your safety and the safety of your customers. Offenders are normally nervous and tense and will react better if you are seen to be doing what they want.
Remain as far away from the offender as possible, if you are too close to him he may feel uncomfortable and threatened. Try to remember any important details about the robber/s, their appearance, type and colour of vehicle and firearms used.
After the robbery
Activate hold-up alarms immediately after the offenders have left. Alarms should only be activated when it is absolutely safe to do so. If you are alone, lock the doors before phoning the police. Ask any customers in the shop to stay until the police arrive so that you have witnesses. Do not disturb the area or anything that may have been handled by the perpetrators. Give the SAPS the full information regarding what happened and where the crime scene is. Give the SAPS the description of the perpetrators, the vehicle used and if possible the direction in which they’re heading.
It’s very important to share crime information with service station owners about what’s happening in their direct area, because it’s very clear that criminals target high-risk areas. They do not only target one service station, but a few. When service station owners know what’s going on around them they can take the necessary precaution to prevent those types of crime as far as possible.
For more information contact Danie Venter, retail security manager in the petroleum industry at firstname.lastname@example.org
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