One of the most vulnerable times of day for financial institutions is when they first open for business. As an MSB, you are a financial institution under the law – and in the minds of people that might choose to rob you.
All people have a tendency to get lax over time and do not pay attention as closely as they should to signs of potential trouble. Depending on the time of day, they may not even be fully awake and alert to potential danger.
If someone takes time to case your business, they will likely learn the timing at which the business is opened, whether one or more persons are involved in opening, whether the person(s) are typically cautious or oblivious. If people meet in the parking area and gab or have a smoke before starting work, that will also be known. The criminal will know that the central monitoring system will be expecting the alarm to be turned off.
If you don’t plan for a safe opening, manage to maintain safe opening practices, and train your staff, you could be particularly vulnerable to ambush, theft and possible bodily harm. Just as banks have opening and closing procedures to protect employees, customers and assets, so should MSBs. Such procedures should be in writing and be reviewed with employees upon hiring and periodically throughout the year. Committing the opening procedures to writing is an important step. Doing so will help standardize the procedure and increase safety and security; it can also potentially reduce employer liability in the event that a robbery occurs.
The procedures for safely opening a business may vary depending on its risk exposure. Money services businesses with large cash vaults performing significant numbers of transactions in a high risk area will have different procedures than a convenience store doing occasional financial transactions in a low risk area.
The following procedure for opening a business location is given as an outline. Evaluate your own risk and then document something appropriate to your businesses needs. Remember, … your needs are to:
- protect employees involved in opening the business,
- protect customers who might be present upon opening,
- protect assets from direct loss due to a robbery upon opening, and
- protect assets from potential indirect loss in the event that a robbery occurs, someone is injured or killed, and your business is held partially responsible.
The minimum best practices for opening involve at least two persons being involved in the opening of the business. Using a buddy system provides for a second set of eyes to be alert to potential danger.
- Two employees should arrive at the business independently at roughly the same time.
- To the extent that the business location allows, drive to circle the building or see it from several angles to ensure that no one is loitering or lurking nearby who might ambush employees upon opening.
- If there are strange vehicles parked nearby that should not be there, look for potential signs of tampering or forced entry into the building.
- The first employee will enter the building, disengage the alarm system and perform an inspection to ensure the building is free from intruders.
- The second employee will remain in his or her car to receive an “all clear” signal from the first employee. During this time the person should remain alert – it is not the time for distracted phone calls, reading the sports page or applying make-up.
- Upon satisfactory inspection the first person will provide the second a pre-arranged “all clear” signal enabling the second employee to enter the building. The first employee should be alert to ensure the second employee enters safely.
- Procedures should call for a pre-set time during which the interior inspection and all-clear signal is given, say “10 minutes.” If the second employee does not receive the all-clear, he or she should not enter the building but should instead immediately notify the police.
Another part of being alert during the opening process is recognizing potential problems such as bushes too close to doorways that are becoming overgrown or exterior lighting that needs replaced. Recognizing and addressing such potential security problems quickly can help to ensure a safe workplace.
Be sure to consider state licensing requirements and to consult with your insurance agent concerning policy implications of your procedures too.