Security tips for espresso stands

By Pamela Singleton, Sonitrol Pacific Director of Communications
Posted March 24, 2009

The report in the Tacoma News Tribune this morning detailing another armed robbery of an espresso stand really upset me.

These stands are generally in somewhat isolated locations, often don’t have phone lines and are frequently staffed by women in their late teens or early 20s. Comprehensive security and safety measures need to be a priority. This can be done in a cost effective way to assure the business owners protect their employees, but still get a good return on their investment.

At the very least, every stand should be outfitted with hold up or panic alert buttons.

The Olympia Police Department shares my concern about this crime trend and released a list of security tips specific to espresso stands.

Building Security
Using sound target-hardening techniques can prevent crimes and make it more difficult for perpetrators to commit crimes unobserved. Survey your business as if you were a criminal and consider the following recommendations:
-Install high quality doors and deadbolts
-Control access by only giving keys to responsible, trust-worthy people
-Use lighting strategically to increase visible areas and consider leaving some lights on at all times
-Make sure window frames are sturdy and that windows have quality locks
-Keep lines of sight clear by trimming vegetation
-Have a designated place for signs and menus to avoid blocking employees’ view of the outside
-Install an alarm system or purchase simple audible warning devices
-Use surveillance cameras or dummies
-Announce crime prevention strategies with signs advising that you have cameras, keep limited amount of cash on hand, etc.

One sure way to discourage criminals from victimizing espresso stands is to eliminate the reward. Although strictly managing money flow may require greater effort from employees and owners, losses will be minimized and sense of security increased if these tips are kept in mind:
-Limit the amount of money kept on-site by making frequent deposits
-Manage the tills so a full drawer of money is never left overnight
-Count money out of public view
-Designate & log bait money by recording series, serial numbers and denominations of a small amount of bills
-Educate employees to consistently ask for identification when accepting checks, debit cards or credit cards
-Secure any tip jars, empty frequently and cover to avoid tempting would-be thieves

The full list can be found on the Olympia Police Department website.