How safe is your service station?

The rate of armed robberies at service stations is alarming and taxing on owners and employees alike. It is ultimately the responsibility of the service station owner to protect his staff. There are, however, measures that can be taken to reduce the risk.

Most service station owners don’t bank their takings over the weekend.  Therefore most robberies tend to take place on a Monday between 9am to 11am. It is also an accepted assumption that the majority of robberies that do take place directly or indirectly involve staff.  It is important that the owner not only pre-screen his staff properly, but also put in place the necessary controls to reduce the threat of robberies.

Handling of cash on the premises

  • Any employee handling cash must be trustworthy, so pre-screening of staff is of utmost importance
  • Casuals or temporary staff must not be allowed to handle cash unsupervised
  • Keep copies of all staff ID’s and personal details including a list of next of kin, their addresses and contact number on file
  • New employees should be made aware that dishonesty will be met with disciplinary and legal action
  • Change all locks and keys as soon as an employee has been dismissed
  • Never handle cash in clear view of the public
  • The cash till should not exceed R500 at a time
  • Remove cash from the drop safe behind closed doors
  • Where possible, cash should be removed from the safe by a security company who has their own keys
  • Try to become a cashless filling station
  • The position of the cashier tills must make it difficult for “grab thieves” to reach

Safe and strong rooms

  • Install a high quality safe and alarm system, which could assist in delaying the perpetrators and hopefully result in an arrest
  • The safe keys must be protected and controlled at all times
  • Ensure that the room where the safe is kept is secure and protected
  • Design the layout of the safe in such a manner that it is easy and safe for the cashier to make drops on a regular basis
  • The safe should not be visible to the public

Transportation of cash

  • Transport cash to the bank on a daily basis, but vary the times and route
  • Use ordinary bags or containers to transport the cash in and refrain from using bank bags
  • Always use a trustworthy and locked vehicle when traveling to the bank
  • Beware of any suspicious people lurking around and do not tell people that you are going to the bank
  • Park as close as possible to the bank and do not switch off the vehicle’s engine unless you think it is safe to do so
  • If confronted by armed robbers hand over the money and co-operate at all times.  This could save your life
  • Ideally do not bank yourself – rather make use of a security company

Other areas of safety

  • Keep your staff motivated and trained and incentivise them by setting targets and developing reward systems, etc
  • Link your alarm and panic buttons to an armed response company
  • Install a silent panic button near the cashier and make sure that you and a staff member on the forecourt each have a remote panic button
  • Offer the local police force free coffee and tea at your premises because their presence will deter most criminals
  • Display signs where you state that the manager and cashier does not have the keys to the safe, the premises are being monitored by close circuit television and other signs informing these issues
  • Install the necessary lighting, cameras and monitoring equipment to increase visibility and prevent anyone from hiding in dark corners
  • Maintain the garden and keep bushes and shrubs trimmed to prevent criminals using them as a hiding place
  • Keep important numbers of your nearest police station, ambulance and the petroleum company close by

Robberies not only affect the financial side of a business negatively, but the price owners and staff sometimes have to pay, is so much higher.  No one can put a price on a life.

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