The retail sector - industry responsibility for security

May 2008 Security Services & Risk Management

Retail stores are increasingly being seen as ‘soft targets’ for armed robberies and innocent shoppers are often caught in the cross fire

Buddy Anderson, retail specialist for ADT, says that while the larger retail stores have tended to contract security guards at their front entrances, these guards are not specifically trained to manage violent situations but rather to deter would-be shoplifters. Even those centres that have contracted outsourced security companies have very little chance of averting a robbery as the gangs usually work in large numbers and overpower existing guards. Anderson says retailers in some instances have installed CCTV cameras to help in surveillance, as well as sophisticated alarm systems. While these play a valuable role, a centre needs to approach its security in an holistic manner and they need to ensure all security staff comply with minimum training standards.

Recent studies have shown that most armed robberies occur on a Sunday with the highest financial losses being on a Tuesday. The robberies are either perpetrated very early in the morning prior to opening the store to customers, or at closing time. Clearly retailers have their highest sales over weekends and the takings are only banked after the weekend, usually on a Tuesday. Many retailers have resorted to utilising CIT (cash in transit) services to collect their banking on a daily basis which tends to improve the situation to a certain extent. "The robberies have unfortunately not dissipated and have moved to what is known as 'cross pavement' robberies where attacks are now being diverted to the security guards transporting the banking for the retailers," says Anderson. Many of the larger retailers have accordingly either arranged that cash is collected through the back areas of their stores or have implemented a drop safe system which entails collection from the outside of the premises.

The other danger point in a retail environment is ATMs, which involve not only firearms but sometimes explosives as well.

Anderson believes both centre owners and tenants need to better co-ordinate efforts to gain greater insight into how they should deal with security preparedness and response in the event of robberies. He says a detailed risk assessment should be conducted together with documented preventative measures and emergency procedures, and training should be carried out on a regular basis involving all concerned. This includes liaison with local law enforcement.

Ideally the following processes need to be investigated and implemented - risk assessment, hazards analysis, emergency plans, training of staff, mutual aid and a communication network.

"Without a proper risk assessment of the possible hazards involved in an armed robbery situation, it is difficult for mall managers to be pro-active in the protection of their tenants and the customers that shop on a daily basis," says Anderson.

He says with the hazards analysis and the necessary collaboration and commitment of all concerned, centre owners will be able to offer solutions to minimise the occurrence of the same and these would include the use of high-end CCTV and access control

Documented emergency plans can be put into place with assigned responsibilities to who should carry out specific actions should an incident occur.

Training of all tenant staff needs to be conducted as well as outsourced and contracted security staff together with periodic testing, revision and drills.

With regards mutual aid, an agreement needs to be formulated between the security organisations within the shopping centre in regard to participation. This would also include the South African Police Services cash in transit companies, alarm companies, armed response and all emergency services.

A communication network then needs to be set up so that information can be relayed to all parties concerned and action taken as soon as possible. In addition there should be regular meetings of all representatives.

Finally, there is a need for property developers to integrate their efforts with law enforcement initiatives as well as service providers to the tenants in the shopping centres.

"The days when crimes of this nature were seen to be the sole responsibility of the police and crime prevention initiatives are over. The only way to ensure the shopping environment is kept safe is through a collaborative partnership with all the relevant stakeholders," concludes Anderson.

For more information contact ADT Security, +27 (0)11 321 4835,,

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Three new portable power stations to ease load shedding
News Security Services & Risk Management Products
EcoFlow has launched three portable power stations that provide sufficient power for consumers wherever they are; the DELTA 2 and RIVER 2 Series are feature-filled power solutions to the volatile electricity supply.

You cannot bribe a computer
Access Control & Identity Management Security Services & Risk Management
Corruption is a cancer that destroys the prospects and stability of countries and businesses. It widens wealth gaps and punishes the poor. It costs countries many billions in lost revenue.

How much protection does cyber insurance really give businesses?
Cyber Security Security Services & Risk Management
If organisations don’t meet even the minimum requirements of security and data protection, insurance will do them little good. Instead, it needs to be just one part of the digital resiliency toolbox.

Off-grid power solution for residential estate
Editor's Choice Security Services & Risk Management Residential Estate (Industry) Products
Coral Beach Estate, an upmarket residential estate based in East London, has been struggling with load shedding and power outages due to South Africa's energy crisis, as well as the vandalism of its power infrastructure.

SafeCity Guarding rolls out across 14 suburbs in Johannesburg
News Security Services & Risk Management
In a major drive to provide communities across Johannesburg with additional safety, Vumacam, in partnership with Fidelity ADT and other security providers across the region, rolled out the innovative SafeCity Guarding initiative in 14 suburbs.

FleetDomain underpins Afrirent’s value proposition
Logistics (Industry) Security Services & Risk Management
Afrirent, a 100% female black-owned fleet management company, has been relying on FleetDomain software for a number of years to help it deliver outstanding service to a growing number of clients.

Choosing an inferior lithium battery can be detrimental and unsafe
Uniross Batteries Security Services & Risk Management Products
South Africans looking to mitigate the impact of load shedding by installing a solar system for their home must do so through an accredited installer or electrician to avoid insurance claims being rejected.

Employee screening, a hiring necessity or an invasion of privacy?
Security Services & Risk Management
There is a fine line between checking a potential employee’s qualifications and references, and investigating aspects of their lives that have nothing to do with their job application.

Keeping students, staff and communities safe
Vumacam News CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring Security Services & Risk Management
South African schools are facing increasing security challenges, making effective surveillance systems more important than ever. To address this issue, Vumacam is offering advanced security solutions with security partners, aimed at keeping students, staff, and the community safe.

Technology is key to securing physical and cybersecurity
Education (Industry) Security Services & Risk Management
The interpretation of security in educational institutions depends on whom you are talking to and whether their focus is on the physical security of the institution, its assets and its people, or its information and communication technology perspective.