“Securing the Cash Side of Business”, a popular seminar held under the aegis of the T&T Chamber’s Crime and Justice Committee, discusses useful information to assist members who deal in cash transactions. This should also be of value to the wider business community, and we are pleased to reproduce some highlights for the benefit of our readers. By publishing these highlights, we hope that it may benefit others by, perhaps, minimising loss of property or even life, as we conduct cash transactions in our daily business. The golden rule is to avoid exposure of cash, whether it be in the course of removing or returning it to our wallets or pockets, and, in the case of business persons to and from cash registers, safes, cash pans, and even the bank. With particular reference to gas station attendants, the risky practice of either giving change or pumping gas with a wad of notes of varying denominations is a recipe for disaster. Owners and operators of all types of businesses should go out of their way to encourage cashless purchases using debit and credit cards and even bank-to-bank transfers. Robbery and theft from vans and other conveyances of goods in the retail sector present an insurmountable problem as the collection of cash by those proprietors still exposes them and their employees to the risk of losing not only cash, but loss of the vehicles.
The installation of what appears to be secure vaults on board is no real solution. The installation of a global positioning system (GPS) and a panic button in the vehicle merely serve to reduce the time bandits have to put their hands on the cash. Cashless transactions are the solution in these circumstances.
Those that handle cash in their businesses on a daily basis via cash registers or otherwise must keep these depositaries closed or locked as soon as cash is received or withdrawn. Strict limits must be set on the amount of cash to remain in the drawers before they are emptied and transferred to a safe, vault or other secure facility, pending conveyance to the bank. The safe, vault or facility should be located well away from public view and be secured by a secure lock in dual custody with both key and combination accesses. The combination access should be changed as frequently as possible and both the key and combination accesses utilised daily, instead of one in place of the other in the interest of convenience.
Safe or vault?
With respect to the choice of safe or vault, it is suggested that the advice of a competent and reputable consultant is the ideal resort. In the course of shopping around, we must not confuse those depositaries that protect their contents from fire with those that retard burglars. A good Underwriters Laboratories Inc (UL) rating is what measures the latter. The greater the number of combinations on the lock the higher the security, as it is more difficult to crack the code. Access is further restricted depending on whether or not the locks are electronic or biometric. Having stored cash away in a safe, vault or other depositary which meets the foregoing requirements, the conveyance of cash to banks spells another risk and more than one person should be assigned this task. The use of public transport must be avoided, and the journey to and from the bank dedicated to the movement of cash exclusively.
Vehicles used for transporting cash should not be left unattended and its doors should be kept locked at all times. Quiet streets should be avoided and as well as conspicuous means of actually carrying the cash. Others in your business ought to be notified of the time you expect to return from the bank and your arrival there ought not to be before opening hours so that the opportunity for robbery or theft is greatly reduced. Ideally, the assignment of these risky duties should be placed in the hands of a competent and reputable security service company which carries adequate insurance cover for this type of risk and provides appropriate training in the delivery of these services. Again, the procurement of the services of a consultant who can competently assess the particular risk and the quality of services required, is well worth the latter’s fee for this advice.
Placement of cashiers
With respect to businesses which are not high volume ones, cashiers should be as far away from public thoroughfares as possible, and in cases where business is conducted in multi-storey buildings, they are better located upstairs. Visibility of the cashier to all in the immediate environment is an imperative. The person ought to be completely enclosed by tinted glass on a elevated platform being by a solid door with an anti-crash lock and wide counters separating the cashier from the customers. This makes it difficult for those standing before the cashier to witness the handling of cash and makes it more difficult for criminal elements to capitalise on this risk. A reliable burglar alarm system from a competent and reputable service provider will address risk when businesses are closed and a panic button for operation by cashiers can deal with same during daytime hours. With respect to closed circuit TV, the principal advantage of this equipment is in the detection and conviction of the robber, rather than the prevention of crime. However, with respect to internal theft, undoubtedly, the benefits are obvious.
The chamber wishes to share the following visual deterrents, apart from the procurement of the preceding goods and services, some or all of which may be simply common sense:
a. Some of our businesses already have push-button releases on main doors. This ought to be complemented by well-trained staff to meet and greet potential customers, screening them as they enter.
b. Advise everyone about the security measures employed in the business. For example, the amounts of cash carried on the premises at any given time.
c. Maintenance of uncluttered aisles with chest-high shelves so that the general view of the shop floor is not impaired.
d. Promotional material should not obscure the view of the shop floor whether from the inside or outside.
e. Staff must be trained to handle and deal with cash as well as how to respond to a robbery. “Dry runs” should be undertaken to ensure that staff appreciate the risk and how to minimise same. With the great advances in technology and increasing sophistication of the services offered by the financial services sector, those who fail to embrace these reforms stand a high chance of being marginalised or becoming victims of crime.
Cash anywhere is like honey to a bee, regardless of the crime rate. Those of us who handle cash have a responsibility, not only to themselves and their families to do so safely, but also to customers, innocent bystanders and society, for that matter, all in the interest of making T&T a safer place.
T&T CHAMBER OF INDUSTRY & COMMERCE