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Violence and robbery at the shop

A robbery is when someone steals or demands money or similar, using violence or threat of violence. For the shop worker, this can be a very upsetting experience, potentially with major psychological consequences. Read more here about robbery and what you can do as an employee, a manager or a member of the health and safety group to prevent and handle robbery.

Understanding robbery

There are several things you can do to prevent robbery, and to prepare yourself for the worst.

How to deal with robbery at the shop

First prevent, then, if a robbery does occur, act wisely, both during and after the robbery.

For employees

For employees

Be prepared for robbery

It’s important that you know how best to protect yourself and your colleagues in the event of a robbery. If you’re prepared for a robbery situation and know how to deal with the situation, then you’ll have increased your own safety and psychological resilience.

You and your colleagues can help to prevent robbery in your daily work.

It’s important that your employer has given you thorough instruction and training in how to help prevent robbery through a security procedure, and in how your security systems work, for example security cameras and panic alarms. It’s also important that you know how to act in a robbery situation, and what to do after a robbery.

During a robbery: Don't be a hero!

If you’re in a robbery situation, don’t try to be a hero and resist. Always obey the robber’s orders! The robber will run away once he’s got what he wants or whatever he can get. Wait until he’s gone, then call for help.

Often, the robber will be tense and will be prone to react unpredictably to obstacles that prevent his endeavour. Don’t try to stall for time, make any sudden movements or move away from the area because that could provoke the robber.  The robber might think that you’re trying to escape or activate a panic alarm or similar, and this could make him panic.

The robber will be intent on not being identified or stopped.  Therefore, you should not attempt to prevent him from escaping or go in pursuit of him. That could lead to a dangerous situation.

  • Read more under Understanding robbery above on how to act during a robbery.

After a robbery

Immediately after the robbery, make sure the police have been contacted. There may be customers and colleagues who need help after the potentially traumatic experience.

  • Read more under Understanding robbery above on what to do after a robbery.

Psychological reactions: What happens afterwards?

If you and your colleagues have experienced a robbery at your shop, you are bound to be affected emotionally, and that’s completely normal. Reactions can differ from person to person. There are no right or wrong reactions.

Typical reactions include:

  • The situation feels unreal, and you may lose your sense of time.
  • You are emotionally unstable: easily moved to tears, feeling angry or feeling anxiety, or reliving the situation over and over again.
  • You may also feel physically uncomfortable, with rapid heartbeat, nausea, dizziness or shaky hands.
  • You may have difficulties sleeping, or your appetite may be affected.
  • You are afraid to be alone, or no longer feel like being with other people.
  • You react to sounds, smells, certain types of customer or situations that remind you of the robbery.
  • Such reactions will often diminish over the course of around 12 weeks.
Here is what you can do:
  • Talk to your manager, colleagues or family about your experience.
  • Hold on to your daily routines: get up in the morning, attend your usual spare time activities and go to work as soon as you are able (preferably the day after).
  • Get plenty of sleep and to eat.
  • Exercise to get rid of stress hormones.
  • Do things that you like.
  • Steer clear of alcohol and other stimulants.
Here is what you can do for your colleague:

What can you do to help a colleague, family member or friend who has experienced a robbery?

  • Show them care, attention and respect.
  • Allow the person to talk about the incident. Listen, don’t interrupt, and accept repetitions.
  • Don’t analyse or explain the incident, and don’t talk about how others are feeling.
  • Acknowledge what has happened; don’t make light of the situation.
  • Help with practical matters, such as giving the person a lift home, arranging for the pick up their kids, and don’t let the person be alone. Make sure there is someone there with him or her.
Free and impartial help for victims and witnesses

If you’ve had a traumatic experience in connection with a robbery, you may need more  help to deal with the crisis . Talk to your boss or contact your general practitioner.

You can also call or write to Offerrådgivningen – Someone to talk to! for counselling and help.  Offerrådgivningen – Someone to talk to! helps victims, witnesses and relatives who have experienced serious and traumatic events such as crime, car accidents and other accidents. Offerrådgivningen has local branches throughout Denmark.

A counsellor will answer your call. You can tell the counsellor what happened. The counsellor will counsel you and give you advice, but most importantly the counsellor will take time to listen to you.

All counsellors have a duty of confidentiality and you can remain anonymous. You can talk to the counsellor over the phone or you can agree to meet with the counsellor. Together, you and the counsellor will find out how best to help you.

Read more

Related pages on Det du mærker

For managers

Your responsibilities as a manager

Find supplementary information about this topic in the sections If you are an employee and For health and safety groups.

How to prevent and manage robberies

As a manager you have two key responsibilities when it comes to retail robbery:

  • Robbery prevention, for example through risk assessment of the shop and through good security procedures for how employees are to handle money, open and close the shop, etc.
  • Management and follow-up in the event an actual robbery takes place.  This includes psychological first aid, documentation, reporting and, most importantly, caring for and talking with the employee(s) affected by the robbery.

Risk assessment and security procedures

BFA Handel has prepared sector guidelines on robberies at grocery shops which include detailed advice on how to prevent robbery. The guidelines describe how to prepare a risk profile and assess the shop’s surroundings, entrance and exit points, as well as its interior, and how you handle cash.

The guidelines are targeted specifically at grocery shops, but they can also inspire managers and health and safety groups at other types of shop. Most of the problems and advice are the same across the retail sector.

Good security procedures

Good security procedures help prevent robberies (as long as they are followed). This applies both in connection with cash handling and general work at the shop. It’s important to have security procedures that support robbery prevention. For example, it’s no use applying locks to all doors if you forget to lock them and if you let unauthorised persons in.

Robbery prevention is a responsibility that you, as a manager, should ensure with the health and safety group. Read more under the For health and safety groups tab.

Psychological reactions:

The employer is required to take all measures necessary concerning psychological first aid at the shop. It’s important with a response plan for what should be done to reduce the psychological consequences of a robbery for those affected.

Reactions to robbery can differ from person to person. Some react by crying, shouting, moving about restlessly or by merely ‘staring into the air’. Some have feelings of guilt; some feel anger and others again try to repress the experience and their emotions. Some may have physical reactions such as insomnia, being unable to concentrate and rapid heartbeat.

When reactions first appear also differs from person to person. It can take up to several days, even weeks.

Psychological first aid

The most important way to prevent or reduce the psychological impact of robbery is to have someone who can listen to, support and care for those affected. This could be you, the manager, or it could be family, colleagues, friends or, perhaps, a psychologist. People who have experienced a robbery (staff as well as customers) will often need to talk about their experience, and this will help them get rid of the feeling of anxiety.

How you can provide psychological first aid:

  • Show care, attention and respect.
  • Allow the person to talk about the incident. Listen, don’t interrupt, and accept repetitions.
  • Don’t refer to your own, similar experiences, even though that seems the natural thing to do.
  • Disagree with employees who say they are to blame for what has happened.
  • Don’t analyse or explain the incident, and don’t talk about how others are feeling.
  • Acknowledge what has happened; don’t make light of the situation.
  • Help with practical matters, such as giving the person a lift home, arranging for the pick up of their kids, and don’t let the person be alone. Make sure there is someone there with him or her.
Follow-up meeting

A follow-up meeting at the shop where everyone meets and is briefed about what has happened will help minimise rumours and insecurity. Such a meeting will also be an opportunity to talk together about the incident and hear everyone’s experience of the situation and how they are feeling.

Professional help

Some shops and chains have service agreements with psychologists to provide counselling after a robbery, and some insurance policies cover the costs of professional assistance, although employers aren’t obligated to offer employees psychological assistance.

Not everyone needs professional assistance, and even though someone may need assistance, you can’t force them to accept it. Regardless, it’s important to pay attention to your staff/colleagues and to ask them how they are and if there’s anything you can do to help.

Remember that reactions to a robbery may occur after some time, and employees should be offered the necessary assistance at this stage as well.

Get free and impartial help

Offerrådgivningen – Someone to talk to! helps victims, witnesses and relatives who have experienced serious and traumatic events such as crime, car accidents and other accidents. Offerrådgivningen has local branches throughout Denmark.

Offerrådgivningen can counsel you about how you, as a manager, best support and help an employee who has experienced a robbery or another traumatic event. These services are free.

Tools and links

Related pages on Det du mærker

 

 

For health and safety groups

The work of the health and safety group

The health and safety group can help prevent robberies in several ways.

BFA Handel has prepared sector guidelines on robberies at grocery shops which include detailed advice on robbery prevention and how to handle a robbery. The guidelines include checklists, proposals for procedures, forms, etc., on which you can base your work.

The guidelines are targeted specifically at grocery shops, but they can also inspire managers and health and safety groups at other types of shop. Most of the problems and advice are the same across the retail sector.

Central or local responsibility?

If you’re not a part of a chain of shops, you can prepare your own risk assessment and your own robbery prevention and management procedures. At a chain of shops or co-op grocery shops, responsibility for robbery prevention and security will often lie with an internal security division.

If a risk assessment of the shop has been prepared centrally, you do not have to prepare an individual assessment for your shop. But of course you should be familiar with the content of the risk assessment, so that you know how to carry out your daily work as safely as possible.

How to prevent robbery

Prioritise the various preventive measures, so that you can apply your resources appropriately. Use a risk assessment to determine whether your efforts to prevent robbery are proportionate to the risk of a robbery occurring. For example, you can look at the following:

Is there any history of robberies? Have there been robberies at neighbouring shops? Has your own shop been robbed before?

Outside the shop: For example, are there appropriate outdoor lighting? Is there free visibility into the shop? Is there good visibility and possibilities for observation in general? Orderly and tidy surroundings around the shop signal that the shop has things under control, and this helps deter robbers from choosing your shop.

Entrances and exits: Entrances and exits can be a factor with regard to the risk of a robbery of the cash register/check-out point. These two areas should therefore be assessed together.

Inside the shop: Robberies of the cash register or at the check-out point are the most common forms of robbery. The robber will usually only take time to take the money in the till.

Cash handling: There is a high risk of a robbery when you count cash and take cash in or out of the safe. If you use the services of a cash transportation company to pick up and bring you cash, then it’s the responsibility of the company to protect your cash against robbery. If you transport the cash from the shop to the bank or night safe yourselves, there are things you can and should do to minimise the risk of robbery.

Good security procedures

Good security procedures help prevent robberies (as long as they are followed). This applies both in connection with cash handling and general work at the shop.

It’s important to have security procedures that support robbery prevention. For example, it’s no use applying locks to all doors if you forget to lock them and if you let unauthorised persons in.

Here are some tips:

  • Review your security procedures at least once a year.
  • Do you have the necessary and appropriate security procedures in place?
  • Do you have fixed procedures for introducing new employees to your security procedures?
  • Always review your security procedures after a robbery.

Tools and links

Related pages on Det du mærker