Recently a number of business people in the west of Ireland have had sums of money stolen from their premises by people using distraction techniques. These crimes usually happen at rural shops, post offices, etc. The method used is that a group of foreign nationals, usually six or seven and mixed in gender, enter a rural business. Sometimes they have children with them. Some of the group will engage the staff in conversation about different products on sale while one of the gang, usually a female, slips into the office or private part of the building. This individual will then search for cash and steal whatever is found and in most cases the amount is substantial.
The concern of local gardaí is how easily this cash is located and also the fact that business people are storing these amounts of cash on their premises. Cash has always been the primary target of criminals therefore; the protection of cash should be given a high priority. Gardaí want to advise business people to be on the alert for these people, don’t be distracted, if a group comes into your shop get help immediately from another attendant or a family member to monitor their movements.
Make sure that access to the office and private quarters is locked at all times and nominate one member of staff to hold the key of the safe on his/her person.
Garda crime prevention guidelines:
Cash handling office/area should be away from public view and constructed to withstand forcible entry. Glazed areas should be reinforced and bars or grilles fitted to vulnerable windows. Door(s ) should be of solid construction, use high quality (hardwood ) door frames and doors with steel reinforcing. Doors should be fitted with security mortise locks, ideally opening outwards, fitted with wide angle door viewer and entry strictly controlled from within.
Keep the minimum amount of cash in cash tills. Larger amounts should be deposited in time delay/time lock safes. A notice indicating the use of such time delay/time locking should be prominently displayed on the premises.
All businesses should have an insurance rated safe bolted to the floor. If there is no safe we strongly recommend the installation of one. Only the very minimum amount of cash should be kept on premises without a safe. Cash should be banked on a regular basis with times and routes being varied.
The premises should have an efficient intruder alarm system connected to a central monitoring station. Panic alarm buttons, fixed or portable, should be available at points where cash is being handled or at other risk areas.
Installing a modern CCTV system is no longer cost prohibitive. Technological advances have allowed for better products and a more competitive market.
Staff should be vigilant and report their suspicions. Some of these foreign nationals may visit a shop to carry out surveillance prior to the attack. Staff should note descriptions of suspects and pay particular attention to unusual features, eg, scars, jewellery, gait, and accent. The unusual will help to provide vital clues in identifying the culprits. Note the registration of the transport used and direction of travel and contact your local Garda station with the details.
Further crime prevention advice can be got by contacting the crime prevention officer, Sergeant Tony Cosgrove, at Castlebar Garda Station, phone 094 903 82000.