Many industry experts believe that once criminals have gained access to your premises, there is little that can be done if you don’t have the right outside resources in place. Ideally, we’d all like to keep criminals out, but once they are in we need to get them out quickly, without the loss of human life. Security experts say that many South Africans are only alert after an incident. You need to look critically at your security to make sure everything is in place before criminals strike.
When we think of security we generally think about the latest gadgets and gizmos, but even some low-tech advice can go a long way in helping to secure your property. Make sure that the property is well lit at night by security lights. Be aware of what happens on your business premises and know the contact details of your security company, neigbourhood watch and nearest police station. Consider what you advertise as soft targets in your store. Criminals are opportunists. If you unwittingly show criminals your patterns like where you keep keys for security gates, you will become a soft target.
Security can be broken down into three sections: perimeter security (walls/gates/motion sensors), security for access points like windows and doors (burglar guards/sensors) and intruder detection and armed response once criminals have gained access.
Technology in all categories has improved dramatically in the past few years, especially in the area of perimeter security and installed alarm systems. Systems are integrated, streamlined and easy to operate. In fact, simplicity is sought after.
Wireless technology has taken the hassle out of putting in an alarm system. Sensors are easy to install and batteries provided are also more powerful offering a much longer life span. Newer systems can operate through a wireless Internet system (wireless/ADSL), through cell phone networks or a combination of both.
For perimeter security, motion detectors are essential. Passive infrared detectors or PIRs do not emit beams but measure infrared temperature, while active infrared or AI sensors send out pulsed beams of infrared light from a receiver to a transmitter. This creates a direct line between the units. When the beam is broken, a radio signal is sent to the control panel.
New systems operate wirelessly. This eliminates the need for unsightly wiring and sensors can be better placed. Monitoring dispatchers at the security company headquarters can identify which zones have been activated. They may also be linked to glass breakage detectors which trigger the alarm when glass is broken.
Criminals also have more at their disposal with technological improvements, which means that business owners need to think smartly. Signals from wireless devices going through to the control panel can be jammed. Criminals may also be able to ‘grab’ the frequency that your wireless technology uses and mimic the signal to the panel. Newer products must be able to pick up these blocking devices and signal the user. Code hopping, where every transmission on the premises has a different code on a different frequency, which the control panel understands, has made wireless more secure.
With closed-circuit television (CCTV) cameras installed, you are also able to dial into the system and view the premises from anywhere in the world. This technology is now being used to eliminate the high number of false alarms experienced by South African security companies.
During business hours
The retail industry, which accounts for 18% of South Africa’s Gross Domestic Product, is under fierce attack. The latest national crime statistics show a record 54 armed robbery attacks against businesses each day and nearly 20 000 business robberies for the last year.
“Retailers would serve their interests well to review the security of their stores, and their cash management services in particular, to avoid falling victim to unexpected and violent attacks that can have dire consequences for the safety of staff and customers, as well as the reliability of trading during the high turnover season,” says Richard Phillips, joint CEO Cash Connect Management Solutions.
While our retail sector is bracing itself for a continued upward spiral of business crime, here are a few guidelines for business owners to help lower their risk:
Make sure your cash vault or safe is robust and conforms to a level of categorisation that offers as much protection as possible against the use of plastic explosives.
The cash vault should be placed in a secure back room with strict access control and not where it is visible or accessible to customers. The latest trend with armed robberies is that criminals no longer just go for the cash in the tills or on the shop floor; they now head straight to the cash vaults.
CCTV cameras are an advantage in a retail environment, but the quality of the system is of utmost importance if it is to create deterrence and provide valuable evidence for police investigation and conviction. Regularly check on the quality of your CCTV footage and make sure that footage is backed up and records activity at entrances.
Ensure that your CCTV operating device is stored securely – this reduces the opportunity for damaging the device during a burglary or robbery and removing all evidence for later investigation.
The store can become vulnerable during the collection of cash, but the combination of the above suggested precautions go a long way to mitigating this risk. In many cases retailers even go as far as closing their stores for the brief (under 3 minutes) collection period. The impact on trading remains minimal, while the safety of staff and customers are treated with care and importance.
Test your alarm system on a regular basis and ensure that your service is linked to a reputable and reliable armed response company. Motion detection in the ceiling should be included more often than not, as burglars sometimes enter the store through the roof.
Remember that most attacks occur with some form of insider participation. The more effective the technology and procedure used to manage the cash, the greater the deterrent. Ultimately, it is far better for criminals to become aware of the level of difficulty during the planning stage, as this will lead to them moving on to softer, easier targets.
The reality however is that many business owners still make use of manual banking and DIY cash counting methods. While trying to manage the risk associated with these practices is difficult and undesirable, security professionals offer some guidelines worth considering:
- Avoid paying wages in cash and make electronic transfers instead.
- The process of manually banking deposits should be kept as confidential as possible.
- Alternate the days and times when you do your manual cash deposits at the bank and avoid openly displaying cash being deposited at an ATM or teller.
- Always avoid carrying money bags or briefcases when approaching an ATM or when standing in a bank queue.
- Change your banking pattern by alternating between bank branches and/or ATMs so your banking routine is not easily recognisable.
Organised crime has a direct impact on our Retail industry and our economy. As socio-economic factors continue to deteriorate, cash-related crime will continue to increase. “It’s therefore vital that business owners educate themselves on how to reduce their risk of an armed robbery, dramatically improve efficiencies and reduce the cost of cash,” says Phillips.
Pioneering the drive to create a secure and efficient retail trading environment, as well as introducing multiple and varied payment solutions, Cash Connect has been progressive in reducing business crime since 2006, improving efficiencies and reducing the overall cost of cash deposits.
Offering more than just a tin box to safeguard your hard-earned money, Cash Connect provides an all-inclusive, value guaranteed, robust automated cash management solution.
The N10K cash vault
Cash Connect, has launched the N10K cash vault designed to provide top-of-line functionality for retailers and wholesalers requiring to secure large volumes of cash through high-speed, bulk cash deposits. The N10K is the largest model in Cash Connect’s cash vault range, designed to withstand the most forceful attacks.
Built to minimum SABS category 4 standards and weighing 950kg, the N10K provides a formidable deterrent. Its design includes a keyless sliding door feature that removes the old swing door that traditionally intruded on available retail space.
Additional features such as biometric user identification, a diagrammatic, touchscreen interface and a fool-proof bag loading system promotes easy and intuitive user operation.
A high-speed validator with a mixed denomination acceptance rate of up to 300 notes per minute makes depositing cash quick and easy. The N10K also offers scalable capacity of up to 10 000 bank notes, with notes being conveniently deposited into a single, disposable bag.
The N10K is supported by a cloud based, real time, financial management and payments software network that facilitates supplier payments and fast deposit settlement into multiple bank account destinations.
But even an automated cash management solution needs vigilance and intelligent management practices to deter criminals. These include:
- Prevent cash from becoming a target by regularly depositing takings into the cash deposit device and keeping cash at points-of-sale to a minimum
- Keep in mind that robbers carefully survey their targets before an attack. Therefore, be on the lookout for suspicious vehicles and people lurking in the area
- Urge staff to spread the word that your cash is secured and not generally available. It won’t take long for would be criminals to realise that your store is a hard target
- Encourage your staff to report suspicious enquiries to you immediately. They should be particularly wary of anyone wanting to know about banking habits, CIT providers or CIT collection times
- Closing shop for a few minutes before and during cash-in-transit collections is a tried and tested ‘best practice’. Alternatively isolate and close down the area during the collections and ensure that the room where the cash exchange or handover is being made has access restrictions. ‘Out of sight is out of mind’ is a valuable adage.
- Assist the cash-in-transit collection team by being prepared. This keeps the collection service time window short, sharp and safe.