13 ways to prevent a robbery at your veterinary practice


Don't put your practice-or your veterinary team-at risk. Take these steps to fend off criminals before they strike.

You might view your veterinary practice as a safe place to work, but it's also an ideal target for a robber. From the money in your drawer to the drugs in your pharmacy, you have what criminals are looking for.

So how do you keep the bad guys away and your employees safe? Here are 13 steps you can take to prevent a robbery.

1. Clear windows to increase visibility from the street. When passers-by can see what's happening inside your practice, there's greater risk to a potential robber.

2. Install sufficient lighting in all areas of the parking lot and around the building. This will eliminate places for robbers to hide and will allow others to see what's happening around the facility.

3. Use a drop safe. By keeping $50 or less in your cash register at all times, you'll minimize a robber's haul, creating less of an incentive. Drop safes don't have to be large or expensive, and they're easy to install.

4. Post signs about low cash on hand. Let criminals know they won't get much, so it's not worth the risk.

5. Train employees on prevention and response procedures. Establish a robbery prevention checklist and include regular training for all team members. Include directions to cooperate with—and never resist—any person who threatens personal harm.

6. Install surveillance cameras. Make sure that at least one is visible in the reception area.

7. Install automatically locking doors. Simply using one-way doors between the reception area and the rest of the hospital can give team members extra time to summon help if someone becomes hostile or threatening. Make sure the employee entrance door is locked at all times. Installing keyless entry locks not only alleviates the problem of forgetting to lock the door, it also makes it easy when team members leave the practice. You don't have to confiscate keys or change locks, you just create a new combination.

8. Use an electronic alarm system with a panic button feature. This will allow team members to summon help quickly. Most alarm monitoring companies provide continual protection for a modest fee.

9. Remove cash from the drawer at night. And leave the drawer open to show potential robbers that it's empty.

10. Count cash away from the front desk and windows. Some safety steps are simple common sense.

11. Install peepholes or windows in exterior doors. Allowing team members to see outside before opening the door provides an extra level of security.

12. Store money in a secure safe between deposits. This includes checks and credit card slips. Make deposits daily to keep the amount of money on hand to the minimum necessary for operations.

13. Consult your local police department. Most police departments have a crime prevention unit whose sole purpose is to provide advice about security, crime prevention, and personal safety. Best of all, this service is usually free.

No single step can prevent crime completely, but implementing even a few of these measures will help make your veterinary practice into a less inviting target for robbers.

Phil Seibert, CVT, is an author, speaker, and consultant with SafetyVet in Calhoun, Tenn. Send questions or comments to ve@advanstar.com.

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