- The doors of your business should be your first line of defense against burglary. While no security measures are an absolute guarantee against someone gaining entry, these common sense tips will greatly reduce the chances of you becoming a victim.
- All of your doors should be equipped with deadbolt locks. The “throw” of each bolt should be at least 1″. Doors with glass panels should have double-keyed locks.
- If the door frames are wood, re-enforced striker plates should be installed with screws that are at least 2 1/2 inches long.
- If your doors have outside hinges, use non-removable hinge pins. Exterior doors should be lined or covered with metal to resist drilling.
- Secure overhead (garage type) doors with padlocks.
- Lock interior doors so that if someone does make entry, he doesn’t have a field day once inside.
- During delivery hours, make sure that the delivery doors are observed. This area should be relatively secure. Don’t let delivery drivers have freedom to roam through your business.
- Make sure you have your address on the back door as well as the front. Officers often check businesses from the rear while checking their beats. If an officer finds an open door or something amiss, he can immediately relay the address to the telecommunicator.
- Solid doors should be equipped with a peephole.
- If someone opens the office each morning and then goes to other parts of the building, the door should be equipped with a buzzer or the outer door should remain locked until other employees arrive.
- Regardless of how much money you invest in locks and hardware, they’re worthless if you don’t make full use of them and teach your employees to do the same.
- Be sure the check is properly completed. Has the person presenting the check given you identification verifying the signature and address on the check? Is the proper date written on the check? Does the written amount on the check match the numerically stated amount? Is the check made payable to you? If the answer to any of these is no, the check should not be accepted.
- Look for a perforated edge along at least one side of the check. Except for US Government checks, all checks have at least one edge that is rough because it has been torn from a check book. Unless a check has an edge which shows the perforation, don’t take it.
- See if the computer number beginning on the lower left hand side of the check reflects light. Checks are printed with magnetic ink, so they can be read by computers. If the ink reflects light, it is not magnetic. Glossy computer code numbers often show a check that has been forged or illegally manufactured.
- A difference between the computer code along the bottom left hand side of the check and the bottom half of the fraction (or small code) in the upper right hand corner of the check may indicate a worthless check. The last three or four digits of the bottom of the fraction (the code may appear as a fraction or as two lines of numbers) represents the code for the Federal Reserve Zone. The three or four digits of this number should match identically with the second, third and fourth (or second, third, fourth and fifth) numbers of the computer code along the bottom left of the check. If these do not agree, don’t take the check.
Theft by deception is the legal term for bad checks, a crime which takes away millions of dollars in profits from Illinois businesses each year. Bad check writing has become a profitable way of life for many resourceful criminals and chronic bad check passers who consistently victimize businesses with poor check cashing policies and careless employees. Here are some important steps businesses can take in order to cut “bad check” losses.
- Always insist on proper identification. The best forms of identification are the Illinois Driver’s License and Photo ID card. Secondary identification is also important, but never accept Social Security cards for this purpose. Credit cards are useful as secondary ID’s, but ID’s that carry the individual’s photograph and current addresses offer the best protection.
- Never allow a customer to rush you; take your time during a transaction.
- Have the customer fill out the check in front of you.
- Always be cautious of new accounts. This includes temporary checks or checks in the “100” series.
- Always write identification information on the face of the check, never on the back.
- Do not accept third party checks.
- Never accept a check made out in pencil.
- Always have the employee who accepts the check initial it.
- Never accept a check based solely on the customer’s appearance.
- Each business must establish check acceptance rules and have the employees follow them.
With the prevalence of sophisticated computers and color copiers, counterfeiting is once again on the rise. You can help guard against this threat by becoming more familiar with our currency. Remember that counterfeit money is usually passed together with some valid currency in order to avoid suspicion.
Things to Know about US Currency
- The $100 bill is the highest denomination now being printed.
- Genuine currency is printed on special paper manufactured under strict Government control.
- The paper contains many small red and blue fibers visible to the naked eye.
- Newer bills higher than $1 contain a strip that runs vertically along the left half of the bill which is visible when held up to the light. The strip will identify the denomination, such as “USA TWENTY”.
Recognizing the Counterfeit Bill
The best method of detecting a counterfeit bill is to compare the suspect bill with a genuine bill of the same denomination and series. Look for differences between the bills, not similarities.
- Try to see the small red and blue fibers on both bills.
- Is the printing on the suspect bill “flat” compared to the genuine bill?
- Does the printing lack the three dimensional quality of the genuine bill?
- Look at the lines in the portrait background on the genuine bill. If you look closely, you’ll see that they form squares. On counterfeits, some of these squares may be filled in, and many of the delicate lines in the portrait may be broken or missing.
If Someone Passes You a Counterfeit Bill
- Don’t return it to the passer.
- Delay them if possible.
- Note their description and license number.
- Notify the police.
- Handle the bill as little as possible.
Stolen, altered, and counterfeit credit cards are used daily to defraud business and credit card companies of millions of dollars. Take the time to be aware of the most common warning signs that a transaction may not be legitimate.
- The account number, names, or expiration dates on the card are not clearly embossed.
- The signature panel on the back of the card appears to have been altered.
- The surface of the card is uneven or wavy.
- The signature on the card does not match the signature on the sales slip.
- The cardholder is making random purchases without concern for price or quality.
- The card is casually removed from a jacket or pants pocket.
- The cardholder seems to be referring to the card while signing his/her name.
Always remember to:
- Check the expiration date.
- Be sure to obtain authorization on all purchases.
- Keep the card in your possession until the sale is completed.
- If you’re suspicious, don’t hesitate to ask for additional identification.
Would you (and your employees) know what to do if your business was the victim of an Armed Robbery? The more you’ve reviewed ahead of time what you would do, the better you’ll react if you ever find yourself in a robbery situation.
Before a Robbery:
A Robbery offender will generally “case” a business before committing a robbery. An alert employee may get a good look at an undisguised robber or be able to alert other employees to an upcoming incident. Some subjects hesitate or act nervously while they work up their nerve. As a matter of routine, you should:
- Report suspicious persons to supervisory personnel.
- Write down (and keep) descriptions of suspicious people who have been in your business. Include
- their vehicle license number if it’s obtainable.
- Keep old job applications on file.
- Go over in your mind how you would respond to an actual Robbery.
- Practice your observation skills daily.
During a Robbery:
The primary purpose of these procedures is to ensure that the risk of injury to employees and customers is minimized. The secondary purpose is to ensure that employees are properly trained to make an accurate description of the offender so that an apprehension is more likely.
- Remain calm. Avoid any action that would cause harm to you or others.
- Hand out the minimum amount of cash necessary to satisfy the offender. If he doesn’t ask for a specific amount, don’t empty the drawer.
- If you have an alarm, activate it when you feel it’s safe to do so, even if it’s not until the offender has left the premises.
- Observe the offender carefully and take in as much detail as you can. Try to look at physical features that can’t change; don’t fixate on facial hair or the disguise, if there is one.
- Watch the offender walk past specific items so that his height can later be determined.
- Without leaving the premises, try to determine the offender’s flight path and vehicle description.
After a Robbery:
- Even if you have activated the alarm, reactivate it.
- Notify a supervisor.
- Call 9-1-1.
- Lock the doors to the business. No one should be allowed in or out. All witnesses inside the business will have to be interviewed by the Police.
- Protect the areas where the offender was seen, including the areas of the floor where he walked. Use line or whatever else is available to cordon off these areas.
- Don’t discuss specifics or descriptions with each other. Witnesses with strong personalities can sometimes influence other witnesses who actually had the best descriptions to begin with.
Shoplifting / Theft
Detaining a Suspected Shoplifter
Do you know when and if you, as a merchant, can detain a suspected shoplifter? The following section is taken directly from the Illinois Revised Statutes:
16-A-5. Detention. Any merchant who has reasonable grounds to believe that a person has committed retail theft may detain such person, on or off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment, in a reasonable manner and for a reasonable length of time for all or any of the following purposes:
- To request identification;
- To verify such identification;
- To make reasonable inquiry as to whether such person has in his possession un-purchased merchandise and, to make reasonable investigation of the ownership of such merchandise;
- To inform a peace officer of the detention of the person and surrender that person to the custody of a peace officer;
- In the case of a minor, to inform a peace officer, the parents, guardian or other private person interested in the welfare of that minor of this detention and to surrender custody of such minor to such person.
A merchant may make a detention as permitted herein off the premises of a retail mercantile establishment, only if such detention is pursuant to an immediate pursuit of such person.
A merchant shall be deemed to have reasonable grounds to make a detention for the purposes of this Section, if the merchant detains a person because such person has in his possession either a theft detection shielding device or a theft detection device remover.
An actual theft is not the only retail related shoplifting offense in Illinois. It is also illegal to possess devices whose purpose it is to defeat theft sensors. The following section is taken directly from the Illinois Revised Statutes:
Theft Detection Shielding Devices
16-15. A person commits unlawful possession of a theft detection shielding device when he knowingly possesses any laminated or coated bag or device peculiar to and designed for shielding and intended to shield merchandise from detection by an electronic or magnetic theft alarm sensor, with the intent to commit theft or retail theft.
A person commits unlawful possession of a theft detection device remover when he knowingly possesses any tool or device designed to allow the removal of any theft detection device from any merchandise with the intent to use such tool to remove any theft detection device from any merchandise without the permission of the merchant or person owning or holding said merchandise.
Any person convicted for the first time of violating the provisions of this section is guilty of a Class A Misdemeanor. A second or subsequent offense is a Class 4 Felony.
Businesses that make daily money drops without use of an armored car service are particularly vulnerable to robbery or theft. Offenders in these cases are usually opportunists who observe a business’s rigid unvarying procedures for performing these drops and take advantage of them. In many cases, they first inadvertently observe a drop being made and then conduct a follow up surveillance to determine if there is a pattern. Here are several things to keep in mind when making money drops:
- Use multiple employees. Having two employees make a drop greatly reduces the chances of them being approached. The vast majority of victims in these cases are alone.
- Differ the times. Instead of making your drop every night at the same time (such as after closing), vary the times, including making a drop while you are still open.
- Use different vehicles. Try to avoid using the same vehicle two days in a row.
- Use the front door. In many cases, people trying to be surreptitious end up drawing even greater attention to themselves. Employees making a drop should use the busiest exit with their car parked as close as possible.
- Don’t display your bank bags. If you are using bank bags of any type, they should not be carried in the open. They can be carried within some other sort of bag so that they are not obvious.
- Use local banks. The banking establishment you use to make your drop should be as close as possible to your business.
- Be alert to people on foot and in cars around you. Try to avoid having “tunnel vision” and take the time to look at people on the sidewalk and in cars (parked and moving) around you.
- Carry a cellular phone. In the event you are involved in a minor accident (which may be a ruse) or someone has caused your tire to go flat through a slow leak, you can immediately telephone for help without exposing yourself unnecessarily
Employee Theft Prevention
Employee theft accounts for approximately 80% of business losses. A pre-existing set of policies and practices will create an atmosphere that discourages and stops this kind of destructive criminal activity.
- Establish a written policy that outlines employee responsibilities, standards of honesty, and general security procedures and the consequences for not following them. Make sure new employees read it, understand it, and sign it as a condition of employment.
- Follow strict hiring practices. Verify all information and contact all the references listed on an application. Consider running a credit check.
- Keep accurate records on cash flow, inventory, equipment, and supplies. Have it checked regularly by someone other than the person responsible for maintaining it.
- Limit access to keys, the safe, computerized records, and alarm codes. Engrave “Do Not Duplicate” on store keys. Change locks and access codes when an employee is terminated.
- If internal theft is discovered, take action quickly. Contact your local law enforcement agency and be sure to send a message to your employees that theft will not be tolerated.
- Reward employees for uncovering security problems and for performing their job well.