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OPP Robbery Prevention Program

Robbery Prevention
Click here to view a video on how to better safeguard your small business

Robbery is one of the most serious and potentially dangerous crimes committed in Canada. Robbery is defined as:

"Theft of property using threat of force or violence, whether visible or simply implied - whether a weapon is involved or not."

A robber commits a hold-up because he or she believes that the profit will be worth the risk. By decreasing the possible profit and increasing the risk of apprehension, potential victims can reduce the chance of becoming a target.



What to Do Before a Robbery

Personal safety is always the most important consideration when planning how to react to a robbery.

Businesses must face the possibility of robbery on their premises realistically, and they should make security training a high priority.

Opening and closing procedures
  • If possible, have at least two employees on duty for each shift, especially present during opening and closing time.
  • When opening, inspect the business premises for forcible entry before entering the business.
  • One employee should search the premises before admitting others.
  • At closing, make sure no one is hiding inside the business premises.
Operate with a cash protection system
  • Keep a minimum of easily accessible cash on hand, both in the cash drawer and in the safe.
  • Do not open the safe too often.
  • Employees should not count large amounts of cash in areas visible to the public or other employees.
  • Exercise caution when making bank deposits.
  • Make deposits during daylight hours with more than one person.
  • Vary the route to the bank and the time of day.
  • Do not make any stops along the way.
  • Hide the currency bag in another container.
  • Vary the personnel and vehicle making the deposit. 
Robbery Prevention ProgramPhysical Security Measures
  • Maintain a well-lighted interior and exterior that are visible from the street.
  • Place physical barriers between employees and customers.
  • Mark the doorway to identify the height of the robber.
  • Security measures that permit the employee to have a complete view of their surroundings such as convex mirrors, an elevated vantage point, and placement of the employee/customer service and cash register area so that it is clearly visible outside the retail establishment serve as deterrents.
  • A strategically placed higher quality surveillance system will provide much more valuable and usable evidence than lesser inexpensive models. Having management personnel "on call" that may quickly access the recorded files for police is strongly encouraged as opposed to police investigators having to wait until the next morning.
  • For secure areas, use doors that lock automatically on closing.
  • Advertise and have prominently displayed surveillance camera equipment near eye level.
  • Use a dual key, drop or delay action time-lock safe.
  • Consider a silent alarm system with a hold button.
  • Keep shrubbery and trees, which a criminal could use to hide, cut back and well maintained.
  • Vary lunch hours and breaks so several employees are always visible.
  • Employees should be trained to watch for and report suspicious actions of people inside and immediately outside the premises. Don't hesitate to call the police at 9-1-1 when worried about a potential risk.
  • Give customers a friendly greeting and try to look them in the eye when they enter the business. It's good customer service for law abiding customers and serves notice to those contemplating a crime that you have noticed, and can likely identify, them.
  • Require employees to ask for identification from workers, repair people, guards, etc. before entering secured areas.
  • Have the counter or work area cleaned on a regular basis to remove old fingerprints.
  • Publicize the fact that the business uses good cash protection techniques and good protection equipment.
  • Be sure to inform your local police and/or call Crime Stoppers @ 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) if you see activities that look suspicious.

What to Do During a Robbery

Proper employee training and review of the procedures to follow during a robbery is vital to surviving the confrontation.
  • Do not resist the robber. The money is not worth risking your life.
  • Do not encourage the use of weapons against the robber.
  • Try to inform the robber of any surprise other than tripping the silent alarm. If someone is expected back soon or if you must reach or move in any way, tell the robber what to expect so they will not be startled.
  • Follow the robber's commands, but do not volunteer help.
  • Try to keep customers and employees calm during the robbery.
  • Activate the holdup alarm only if it can be done without being obvious to the robber.
  • Be observant and plan to be a good witness.
  • For your safety and the safety of your customers you want to get the robber out of your business as quickly as possible.

What to Do After a Robbery

Preparedness for a post-robbery situation can place the employee in a better position to provide information to police that will assist in capturing the robber and protecting employees and customers from harm.

  • Do not chase or follow the robber.
  • After the robber has left, immediately lock the doors so the robber cannot re-enter the business. Don't let anyone in.
  • Call the police immediately at 9-1-1.
  • Care for injured people.
  • Try to note the robber's method of escape and direction of travel.
  • Preserve any potential evidence.
  • Ask witnesses to remain until the police arrive.
Surviving a robbery should be your first priority. By following the above guidelines you should survive the confrontation and be able to provide valuable information to the police. Ontario Provincial Police also offers a Robbery Prevention Program seminar. In partnership with our business communities, we continue to work in support of our vision of safe communities – a secure Ontario.


Additional resources:
Robbery Prevention for Small Businesses TIP Sheet
SafeGuard Ontario Property Security Program
Counterfeit Prevention
Victim Services Ontario


Robbery Prevention Store