If you own a restaurant and you are concerned about the recent spate of armed robberies in Cape Town, be sure to take note of these safety tips and keep them close at hand:
- Form a network of eyes and ears. Train staff to be alert at all times and immediately report any suspicious customers to management. Don’t only be on the look-out for ‘traditional’ theft or criminal activity - also be attentive to your customers’ behaviour, following their meal. There has been a sharp increase in incidents where patrons enjoy a restaurant’s hospitality and then quickly leave without being noticed and without paying the bill. Always have a manager or experienced staff member manning your restaurant entrance to monitor patrons entering and leaving.
- Be strict with restroom usage. Only allow patrons to use your restrooms. Restrooms are often positioned at the back of a restaurant - close to the operational and managerial area - which could give criminals the opportunity to familiarise themselves with the restaurant without being noticed. They could also seize the opportunity to grab a staff member and create an armed hostage situation from the inside with partners in crime flocking to the scene from the outside.
- Install panic buttons or portable armed response activating devices. Install panic button(s) connected to your security company in strategic, unseen places within your restaurant and make sure that management and senior staff are aware of them. Arm staff members who move around frequently with portable armed response activating devices.
- Educate your staff. Inform staff of the various security threats and current crime trends and implement strict house rules regarding security to be upheld at all times. If possible, enrol your key staff members to complete a self-defence course to increase awareness and skill around reacting appropriately should your restaurant be a target of a criminal attack.
- Lock up! Keep all restaurant windows and doors locked until you officially start trading.
- Install a drop safe. Although the initial cash outlay may be fairly high for smaller businesses, the long term benefit of installing a drop safe from a safety perspective is worth it. Decide on an amount and instruct the manager on duty to deposit that amount into the drop safe as soon as it becomes available. In this way you can safeguard your business against large sums of money being stolen at any one time.
- Advertise your security. Once installed, advertise that the keys to the drop safe are not kept on the premises. If you have appointed an armed response company or security cameras, display their sign board in a prominent place.
- Monitor your opening and closing times. Many armed response companies offer a service whereby they monitor your opening and closing times by means of an armed response vehicle or foot patrol. More likely than not the presence of a security patrol will deter robbers from actually committing the crime. When closed to the public either first thing after opening or just before closing, keep doors and windows securely locked at all times.
- Avoid inside jobs and cash in transit robberies. It is vital that you compartmentalise information about cash transits. Although no one wants to believe that their staff may be leaking information about their business, keeping information about cash transits and deposits on a need to know basis, can assist in avoiding inside jobs from taking place. Eliminate having to transport large cash amounts by paying salaries via EFT or cheques. If this is not possible, frequently vary your routes to and from the bank.
- In case of emergency (ICE), call the CID. If your business is located within a City Improvement District (CID) and you find yourself in an emergency situation, call the CID 24hr patrol vehicle number. The CID patrol vehicles are in direct contact with SAPS and can assist in times of need. If you are located in the Oranje-Kloof CID you can call 082 214 3228 and in the Green Point CID call 082 217 1386.
According to Roumen Angelo, owner of the Café Sofia Restaurants in Kloof Street and Sea Point, the key to combating crime in this industry is to implement every possible safety precaution relating to every aspect of your business. “It’s important to get the buy-in from staff members and to involve senior staff in the daily implementation of these precautions. Unfortunately security measures are often costly; however I have found that there are no short cuts to securing your business, patrons and staff members. Every safety precaution you implement makes your business less of a target as it’s more challenging for criminals to break-in.”
Says Marc Truss, Chief Executive of the Oranje-Kloof and Green Point CIDs: “It’s not an easy task to identify an individual scouting your business amidst the level of activity that takes place in a restaurant. All staff members should therefore be attentive to the tell tale signs revealing that an individual is not interested in enjoying your hospitality, but rather has criminal motives. Simple things including an individual sitting at a table, scanning the menu for a lengthy period of time without requesting a drink, or not being able to provide staff with a defined answer regarding their visit, should raise suspicion amongst management and the relevant security officials should be alerted. It’s not worth taking a chance when help is only a phone call away. Rather be pro-active. “
Remember to report all crimes to the SAPS as it assists with identifying hot spots and areas of concern and allows both SAPS and the CIDs to effectively track trends and combat crime. For more information go to www.GPCID.co.za or www.OKCID.co.za. These tips were brought to you by the Green Point and Oranje-Kloof CIDs: “Improving our area for all”.