Magazine article Security Management

Stores Learn to Inconvenience Robbers: 7-Eleven Shares Many of Its Robbery Deterrence Strategies

Magazine article Security Management

Stores Learn to Inconvenience Robbers: 7-Eleven Shares Many of Its Robbery Deterrence Strategies

Article excerpt

A man entered a 7-Eleven store in Richmond, Virginia, earlier this year, picked up a few items, and walked over to the checkout counter as if to make a purchase. When the clerk rang up the sale, the man pulled a .38-caliber revolver from his shirt and demanded all the money in the register. Without hesitation, the clerk handed the thief $12 and remained calm as the perpetrator fled the store on foot. She then locked the front door and called the police. Although the suspect was never arrested, the company considered itself lucky - the robber was only able to steal a small amount of cash and, more importantly, the clerk was not injured.

While it may be impossible to stop all crimes, security managers can institute measures that help protect employees and limit financial losses. The Southland Corporation of Dallas has implemented security strategies over the past twenty years that have helped reduce robberies by 70 percent at its 2,100 company-owned and 2,900 franchised 7-Eleven stores. The measures - which have also reduced the average monetary loss of each robbery to just $37 - are based on several studies conducted since the mid-1970s by Southland, the Western Behavioral Sciences Institute (WBSI), the National Institute of Justice (NIJ), the National Association of Convenience Stores, and the Athena Research Corporation. Using these studies, the company gained insight into how robbers think and what deters them from committing a crime. The company then developed a crime deterrence program that is centered around three components: cash control, visibility, and training. The company has also found that using CCTV cameras and alarms, minimizing the number of escape routes, and building a strong relationship with local police can help reduce crime at its stores.

Cash control. Athena's studies of armed robbers in 1985 and 1995 have shown that 80 percent of potential robbers can be deterred if a convenience store limits the amount of money kept in its cash register. Therefore, 7-Eleven store employees are instructed to keep no more than $50 in the cash register during the day and less than $30 at night. Signs are conspicuously posted that notify would-be robbers about this policy and explain that store employees cannot open the safe.

To help employees keep a minimal amount of money in the registers, 7-Eleven stores use a 500-pound cash control unit that can hold cash in a secure container. This type of device, which can cost between $2,200 and $3,700, looks like a safe but has either a key lock or a card reader and keypad on the front rather than a combination lock. Older versions of the technology rely on a key to access the container, while newer versions require an electronic access card and personal identification number (PIN).

These cash control units are about 24 inches wide, 32 inches high, and 20 inches deep. They serve much like a safe in that they secure cash in a container, but they are also used like a cash register in that they can periodically dispense paper money and coins when a clerk needs change for a customer.

The first part of the cash controller unit is a locked drop chute where large bills and checks are deposited by the clerk. When the money is dropped into this slot, it goes into the secure container inside the unit, where it cannot be accessed by anyone except a manager. A manager can only open the container by inserting his or her key or by using an access card and then entering a PIN on the keypad. Once this process has occurred, the unit will wait ten minutes before releasing its lock. Most robbers are anxiously trying to get out of the store within seconds and will not wait ten minutes for the unit to open. Clerks and other nonmanagerial employees are not given a key or an access card and PIN that authorizes them to open the container.

The second part of the cash control unit is the money dispenser. In a separate compartment that must be stocked periodically by the store manager, the unit holds rolls of quarters, dimes, nickels, and pennies, as well as tubes of bills in various denominations. …

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