Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kit aims to prevent business robberies

This month's Informant newsletter discusses a tool we'll soon be rolling out to prevent business robberies. Many pieces of the Business Robbery Prevention Kit are now available on our Robbery Unit's web page. Check out the newsletter story below to learn more about it:

The woman who owns and operates a small Hispanic market in Northeast Kansas City was viciously attacked by a robber with a tire iron in late April. The suspect came in, asked about tamales, then went behind the register, stole hundreds of dollars and beat the store owner to the point she required 33 staples in her scalp.

She is the kind of person Detective Cristin Stammler of the Robbery Unit hopes to help with a new business robbery prevention program. Kansas City had 410 business robberies in 2010, but Detective Stammler noticed a difference in how they were handled.

“There’s a more consistent response from corporate businesses than mom-and-pop stores,” he said. “Smaller businesses seemed to be getting hit more. I thought maybe there’s something we could do to proactively prevent business robberies or minimize the chance of a violent confrontation.”

Detective Stammler said corporately owned businesses typically have formal training for their employees about robbery prevention and what to do should one take place. Smaller businesses often don’t. That’s where KCPD will step in. Adapting a program developed by the Mesa, Ariz., Police Department, Detective Stammler has created a “robbery kit” to assist Kansas City business owners.

The kit, which is available in English and Spanish, includes a height strip for owners to put by the front door, a brochure with lots of prevention tips, and a step-by-step booklet outlining what employees should do if a robbery takes place that includes everything from what to say to the 911 dispatcher to how to preserve the crime scene. The booklet contains a form to write down suspects’ appearance, clothing, vehicle and weapons. It also has a sign employees can post on their doors saying the business is temporarily closed because of an emergency.

“The kit is meant to be kept at the work station, under the cash register,” Detective Stammler said. “You just flip through the steps and don’t have to remember everything. It’s a very traumatic situation to be a robbery victim, and even the simplest of tasks can seem impossible.”

Detective Stammler has contacted each of the six patrol division’s community interaction officers to learn which businesses will most benefit from the kits. He’s putting that together with a list of businesses that have been robbed the most. Once that list is compiled within the next one to two months, robbery detectives personally will visit each of the businesses to deliver the robbery kits.

“That face-to-face contact is important,” Detective Stammler said. “Hopefully they’ll get to know us and call us if they have questions.”

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