3 Steps to Help You Survive an Armed Robbery

3 Steps to Help You Survive an Armed Robbery

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By Tony Gallo

By Tony Gallo

“Officer, we’ve been robbed!” Four words that will change your life forever. Almost every day we learn about a cannabis location that was robbed. Just earlier this week, news broke of a violent robbery of a Denver medical marijuana dispensary (and the robbery was caught on video). The cost to owners and insurance companies is substantial in financial losses, not even counting the loss to business revenues that may occur from adverse publicity. More alarming is the growing trend in violence during these robberies, which in some cases has led to employees and customers being seriously injured and even killed.

Unfortunately, robberies do happen, regardless of the best prevention methods. More unfortunate is that most incidents are not solved by the police. Although your goal should always be to prevent these incidents from ever happening, following three basic steps could help you better respond to an armed robbery.

Step 1: Cooperate With the Robber.

Remember, money and merchandise can be replaced, but you can’t. Most robberies take just a few minutes. Attempt to get the robber out of the store as quickly as possible. Cooperate with the robber’s demands, but only do what is asked–and no more. If the robber wants the money from the cash drawer, give it to him or her. However, if the robber doesn’t ask, then there is no need to tell him or her about the safe under the counter. Cooperate, but be efficient in meeting the robber’s demands.

Step 2: Don’t Be a Hero.

Try to avoid confrontation with the robber. All the robber wants is the money or cannabis, and to get away. Don’t look directly into his or her eyes, and try to stand as far away from him or her as possible. Don’t try and fight the robber and be a hero. If you want to be a hero, try to remember everything about the robber so that the police will have some good leads and make an arrest.

Step 3: Don’t Panic.

There is an expression I have always used during an emergency situation, which applies to dealing with a robber: “Never let them see you sweat.” During a robbery, you want to make sure there are no surprises to the robber. Don’t make any sudden moves and try to anticipate anything that may surprise the robber, such as someone in the backroom or the noise the cash register will make when you open it. Mention these things to the robber.

After a robbery you could be shaken or nervous. That is normal, so just relax as the hard part is over, and there is a good chance the robber will not return. Now call 911 and lock the main door until the police arrive. Make sure all of the people involved in the robbery are safe and well. Look out for any fragile people who may have a health issue. If you are in any doubt about any person’s health, call an ambulance. Don't discuss the robbery with other witnesses, and preserve the crime scene for the police.

Recovering from an armed robbery is not going to happen overnight. It is important that you seek help either from friends or professionals during the recovery process. Most people are in some form of shock after a robbery, which can last a few hours to a few days. This is normal after a traumatic event. You should allow yourself to feel that emotion. Remember, if you need help after a robbery, get it!

Remember these 3 basic steps to help you and your employees remain safe:

  • Cooperate With the Robber.
  • Don’t Be a Hero.
  • Don't Panic.


Tony Gallo is the Senior Director of Sapphire Protection, with over 30 years in the Loss Prevention, Audit, Safety and Risk/Emergency Management fields. He has a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice from New Jersey City University, and is a member of Americans for Safe Access and the National Cannabis Industry Association. Contact him at tonyrgallo@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter at @SapphireProtect.