They watched from the shadows as the clerk opened the back door to make his nightly run to the trash yard. He didn’t deviate from the routine the last two nights. It was 1:35 AM, right on schedule. When the young man returned with his empty cart, they pulled their balaclavas down to their chins and jumped out with guns drawn. They pushed the employee into the restaurant. Entering the office area, the two thieves went into a frenzy of action. One thief grabbed the manager, pointed her gun at her and yelled at her to open the safe, while the other forced the other employees who were closing up to lie down on the cold tile floor of the kitchen. Employees’ lives are forever changed when they experience the terror of looking at the brink of life and death.
Unfortunately, this scene plays out somewhere every night in the world of fast food. A world serving the public, late at night with predators on the prowl, waiting and plotting to seize every opportunity to forcibly steal your hard-earned money. Crime prevention solutions cost virtually nothing more than implementing changes in policy, routines, and discipline.
Opening the back door exposes the company to loss of cash and product and the employees to serious crimes, including homicide. Opening it at night greatly increases the chances of bad things happening. However, it is one of the most serious and most violated infractions of all security policies. It’s a virtual weak link that can become one of the strongest ties to creating a safer environment for customers and employees when executed correctly.
This particular scene can be avoided with simple policies and procedures to limit these dangerous exposures to crime and theft. Most importantly, procedures must be ingrained in employee training and routines in the restaurant, and violations must be met with appropriate discipline. Door control is not only essential to keeping employees safe and secure, it is also an important component in preventing theft and inadvertent loss.
Effective back door policies include prohibited opening hours, such as late hours and possibly peak hours when every employee must focus on serving the customer. Sound loss control programs ensure that the door is locked at all times and supervised by a member of management each time it is opened. The keys to the door lock and alarm must not be left in the possession of the management team or be readily available to non-management staff. Trash runs made after dark must be done through the lobby doors while the restaurant is open and never after the doors are locked.
When opened, the door must not remain open. During a trash walk, all trash is placed outside the door, then closed and locked unless a member of management checks the door open. Clear garbage bags must be used and all cardboard boxes must be disassembled. No one can enter through the back door. Any request to enter or open the rear door must be made at the front counter. Audits should be performed on a routine basis to verify compliance with company policies related to door opening, key checking, alarm testing, and procedures related to garbage disposal.
Tailgate must be equipped with an audible push bar alarm with a key that cannot be removed while the alarm is in the “off” position, a small (less than 4”) covered window or peephole, and anti-pry plates in the lock Exterior lighting illuminates the rear door and trash corral areas If the restaurant is equipped with a perimeter alarm system, the rear door must be included A sign in the applicable languages on the door indicating the authorized opening rules help communicate clear expectations.
Apply simple technologies to audit compliance and report unauthorized openings that endanger the lives of employees and the profitability of the company. Effective digital camera systems include door activity monitoring. Audible enunciators and/or strobe lights near the manager’s office notify when the door is opened. Exception reports can be generated by connecting alarm contacts with a restaurant camera system. Reports can be relayed to supervisors and/or security representatives with attached video of open door activity. Additional combined video and audio technology can interact with store personnel and/or customers causing problems from an external monitoring station.
The back door of every restaurant is essential to maintaining effective operations from garbage disposal to receiving inventory. Sound loss control principles involve control of when the door is opened. The old habits of maintenance or warehouse employees who have the keys to the doors in their possession, the keys hanging on a hook or the indiscriminate loan of management keys are difficult to change. Maintaining control is often viewed as an inconvenience by management. The costs of implementing new policies, procedures, and disciplines on backdoor use are economical. When the door is not controlled, the chance of bad things happening increases dramatically, as shown in the opening passage above. When “nothing bad has ever happened here” and “if it ain’t broke, why fix it!” are the answers to not having proactive loss prevention procedures in place, the ultimate price can be extremely high.