10 Steps to Safe Cash Management

Drop safes, signage, training, transaction barriers and video can deter robberies.

Cash is a good thing. It powers our economy and gives us a reason to show up for work. Cash on campus has one unfortunate side effect: robbers like it too. Robbery is an enormous problem in the workplace. For several years, it was the number one cause of death for women in the workplace.

Keeping cash away from robbers while increasing employee safety has been the subject of intensive study by law enforcement, universities and companies like Southland Corporation, the parent company to 7-11 mini-marts. Here are 10 steps that can reduce the potential for robbery and workplace injury.

1. Develop Employee Awareness: Have employees smile, make eye contact and greet all persons who enter a cash collection area. It is good for customer service while reducing the chance of a robbery. Studies have shown that robbers target employees who do not pay attention.

2. Minimize Availability of Large Amounts: Minimize the amount of available cash in the cash register or drawer. Try to keep it at or near $20. Do not accept currency in denominations greater than $20.

3. Use a Drop Safe: Train employees to immediately deposit large bills or cash amounts over the minimum limit into a drop or depository safe. These safes allow cash to be deposited without opening it. Some safes, like the Tidel, have the ability provide extra cash or change at timed intervals. Drop safes should be equipped with a time delay lock that will not open until a programmable delay of several minutes.

4. Use Signage: Draw attention to your robbery prevention program with signs:

  • “For Everyone’s Safety, We Keep Minimum Cash on Hand at All Times”
  • “Time Lock Safe, Employee Can Not Open”
  • “Video Surveillance Cameras Present” (If they are actually used). Post signs on or around surveillance cameras and monitors to draw attention to their presence.
  • “We do not accept bills over $20”

5. Train Employees: Employees that handle cash must have ongoing training:

  • Awareness training: eye contact, smile and greeting to all customers
  • Train employees to make the drop and minimize available cash. Audit to ensure compliance.
  • Tell staff that if a robbery does occur they should cooperate with robbers, no sudden moves, keep hands in plain sight. Avoid making eye contact once the robbery has begun.
  • After a robbery has occurred, employees should lock the door where applicable to prevent re-entry. They should not follow the robber. Instead, they should call the police, get witness information and write down everything they can remember about the incident.
  • Use roll play to make robbery training realistic. This will improve employee confidence.

6. Limit Number of Cash Collection Points: Limit the number of cash collection points to the fewest possible. Consolidate these areas wherever possible.

7. Be Visible: Locate cash collection points in areas with a high volume of foot traffic or in areas that have legitimate activities that keep potential witnesses in the area.  Avoid any architectural features that block visibility into and around cash collection points. 

8. Develop Appropriate Cash Transfer Techniques:

  • Minimize the distance from cash collection points to the central safe
  • Avoid using bank bags or other conspicuous means to transport cash.
  • Vary the times and routes used to transport cash
  • Have cash transport personnel accompanied by an escort
  • Use armored transport to move large amounts of cash to the bank

9. Use Transaction Barriers When Appropriate:

  • Consider using armored glass or Lexan ballistic barriers with pass-through devices to harden cash transactions in vulnerable areas or places with high volume cash exchange. Harden the area below the translucent barrier with Kevlar or similar bullet resistant barriers.
  • Staff must continue to minimize cash in drawers through use of drop safes and still cooperate with robbers, even with the barrier present

10. Consider Installing Video Systems: According to recent studies, video cameras by themselves have not shown great promise as a robbery deterrent. However, it appears that their deterrent effect can be improved by drawing attention to them.

  • Consider using Public View Monitors, which pair a camera with a monitor behind the cashier or at entrances to a cash handling area. This allows the patron to see their image as they enter these areas. The customer image must be large, showing the subject’s face and upper body. It must also be clear and recognizable.
  • Post signs on cameras and monitors to draw attention to them. The signs should not state or imply anything that would create a false sense of security. For example, do not state that the cameras are monitored if that is not the case.

Cash is a wonderful thing for any campus as long as it is properly managed.

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Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

About the Author


Jim Grayson is a senior security consultant. His career spans more than 35 years in law enforcement and security consulting. He worked for UCLA on a workplace violence study involving hospitals, schools and small retail environments and consulted with NIOSH on a retail violence prevention study.Grayson’s diverse project experience includes schools, universities, hospitals, municipal buildings, high-rise structures and downtown revitalization projects. He holds a degree in criminal justice and a CPP security management credential from ASIS. He is a nationally recognized speaker and trainer on a wide range of security topics.He can be reached at [email protected] Note: The views expressed by guest bloggers and contributors are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, Campus Safety magazine.

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