Last updateTue, 25 Jun 2019 9pm

Retailer Roundtable: What do you do when a suspicious character enters your store?

RR Asbell“Nine years ago we were victims of an armed robbery. And, when we were burglarized in recent years it was nearly a 100-percent loss. Although these are very unfortunate events, it made us better prepared for potential future crimes. After the armed robbery we installed a buzzer on our front door. You can’t judge every person that comes to your door, but the buzzer entry system can certainly keep armed robbers from barging in. A majority of our business is repeat customers and word of mouth, so we have a good idea of who’s coming to our store based on those connections. Our [customer outreach] concept has an additional security benefit to it. We’re a small boutique style store - staffed by my wife [Sheena] and I along with two employees - and make every effort throughout the day to have at least two perhaps three staff on the sales floor at all times. When more than two to three customers are in the showroom, all staff is out on the sales floor. We have multiple panic buttons throughout the store. And, if things get really bad, we have firearms strategically placed throughout the store. Each staff member is trained with firearms and each of us has a conceal and carry permit.” 

Clint Asbell, owner
Haile Jewelry & Loans
Gainesville, FL


RR Bullock“We’re very grateful for having a seasoned staff that has been working together for many years, including these sorts of situations. For starters, training is essential. We’re Jewelers Mutual customers so we receive free online training for the staff. Everyone here has taken the online training and we do refreshers. In the event a suspicious character enters the store we have a series of non-verbal and verbal signals. The non-verbals can be as subtle as a look or a nod. Through our established in-store procedures we also have verbal cues to also alert staff that there’s a potential security issue. When the staff quickly recognize the cue, be it non-verbal or verbal, they spread out throughout the store. We try to make sure there’s enough people to have coverage in every area of the store, have people line of sight, and a staff member on the security camera in the back office. We’re very big on security here. Training is essential. When someone new joins our staff most of the initial one-week training is on security practices, policies and procedures. In general we don’t have scheduled staff meetings, but we do gather about security protocol pretty regularly. When we get together as a staff and do a security training, we often review protocol and talk about things we’ve noticed in the neighborhood that cause concern or we field questions and scenarios with each other to make sure we are on the same page.”

 Kyle Bullock, co-owner
Bullock’s Jewelry
Roswell, NM


RR Becker“We have a two level call out system in the event a suspicious character or group of people enters the store. A fictitious customer name is said in such an event. When that name is said by one of the employees it alerts other staff members to a potential situation while getting more people on the sales floor. If it’s an individual, the more staff on the sales floor the better. We have large windows looking out over the parking lot, as well as security cameras with front door coverage. This allows us to monitor a potential situation before the individual even enters the store. When engaging a suspicious character, we greet them per usual but qualify it with comments that lets the person know we’re aware of identifiable information, such as complementing the individual on their vehicle or piece of clothing. The second alert level is mentioning out loud a fictitious customer’s order status. When this code is said out loud the police are notified. If done well, the suspicious character has no clue that the sales staff is aware of his possible intentions or that the police have been called. To date, we’ve never had to call the police. With new hires, security is a big part of their training. And, we don’t allow new sales staff to handle diamonds or high value sales until they’ve demonstrated proper product, sales and security knowledge.” 

Bill Becker, owner
Becker’s Jewelers
Mount Pleasant and West Burlington, IA


RR McClain“For starters, we have posted door signs that state the premises are under surveillance along with security cameras in the parking lot, the store entrance and throughout the store. Second, there’s a door buzzer entry system. This allows us to screen people coming up to the front door. Also, given that security risks come in all varieties, our staff is trained to profile behaviors first and foremost. These are just as obvious as other characteristics. Should a suspicious person get by these barriers, we have a customer name code word that signals all staff to the sales floor. Each associate then takes on an assigned task from our security procedure list once they’re out on the sales floor, including identifying the suspicious person’s car - type, make and model - as well as license plate. Other associates identify clothing and unique characteristics such as scars, tattoos and body piercings. In the event something does happen, our staff could assemble a pretty detailed profile for the police. And, all associates have the authority to call 911 or press the hold-up buttons located all over the store if they deem it necessary. A lot of security is presented and prevention is practiced. Often we perform mock-up situations and awareness. We have a private security company that drives by the store several times a day. They even come in for coffee. We also act on suspicious calls and those casing the store. Robberies and break-ins have actually been prevented because we’re watching the people watching us.”

Susan McClain, store manager
Gruno’s Diamonds
Madison, WI


RR Moeller“A door buzzer is our first line of defense. First, we don’t let in people wearing sunglasses, a hoodie over the head, or if they’re on a cell phone. And, if we don’t know the person at our door we’ll use the intercom system to encourage them to make an appointment. And, when we don’t know the person wanting to come in, we always ask for a photo ID before entering the store. If a suspicious person does happen to get through all of this, then we have two code words, one to get everyone on the sales floor and another code word to call the police. Our security presence and procedures are very good. We’ve learned some lessons over the years and have changed our approach to security including part-time security with off-duty police. The key to good store security is prevention and presence. A larger, mindful presence of staff on the sales floor makes suspicious people uncomfortable, to the point they want to leave. And that’s our goal.”

Nancy Moeller
R. F. Moeller Jeweler
Stores in Minneapolis, Edina and St. Paul, MN