In the latest issue of NZ Retail magazine, we revealed that retailers are facing a spike in aggravated robberies. Police started to notice an escalation in April 2017, and they report that by May 31, aggravated robberies were up 87 percent on the previous year. They shared some tips on how retailers can make their stores safer.
On an individual level, there are a number of steps that retailers can take to improve their safety at work. Retail NZ’s advice is to review your security; train your team so that everyone knows what to do if a robbery occurs; and stay informed by communicating with other retailers and police.
In April, police launched Operation Dukan, which has seen them visit more than 1,000 SME retailers in Auckland to reduce opportunities for offending and reducing victimisation using CPTED – criminal prevention through environmental design.
Under the principles of CPTED, police look at the layout of a store and any existing security measures, and work with the retailer to address any vulnerabilities they discover.
Inspector Penny Gifford of the New Zealand Police says that the most common vulnerability seen in SME retail stores is store windows that are fully boarded up or covered by posters.
“This allows the offender to be inside, committing an offence, without any capable guardians or anyone seeing.”
“Capable guardians” is a descriptor used by police to cover neighbours, community patrols, and other local individuals who could help the victim in an attack.
Guided by CPTED, police are pushing for retailers to switch to clear windows that won't hide offenders. They're also working with suppliers, who can have marketing deals involving large external advertisements which may cover windows, and cabinets which can clutter up the inside of retail stores and block sight lines.
“We don't want to remove this marketing, but we do want to position it better,” says Gifford.
Keeping only a few units of valuable stock on the floor at a time and reducing access to often-targeted goods like cigarettes and alcohol is also important. Gifford says secure tobacco machines like those installed in Auckland service stations by Z Energy in May would help improve safety as they would reduce criminals' ability to gain large quantities of high-reward product at a time.
She says positioning stock so that it blocks sight lines in stores can allow criminals to walk in without being detected by the retailer.
Lighting is also an important part of making your store a safe environment. Dim lighting can hide an offender once they're in the store – not only does this prevent those outside from spotting them, it can also allow a criminal to sneak up on their victim.
Gifford recommends that retailers keep their till at the front of the store: “Some people think it's better down the back of the store, but that can actually hide the offender.”
This story originally appeared in NZ Retail magazine issue 751 August / September 2017